Clayton Kershaw on track to begin a rehab assignment Friday

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2013 National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw threw 51 pitches in a bullpen session yesterday at Dodger Stadium as he continues to make his way back from a strain of the teres major muscle in his upper back. And he’s nearly ready to make his return to game action.

According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Kershaw is scheduled to throw another bullpen session tomorrow. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that while nothing is set in stone, the southpaw is currently on track to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Friday.

Pitchers are permitted to stay on a rehab minor league rehab stint for a maximum of 30 days, but Kershaw might only need a couple of tuneup starts before rejoining the Dodgers.

Reds ink Oliver Perez to a minor-league deal

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The Reds have signed free agent reliever Oliver Perez to a minor-league contract, the team announced Saturday. The deal comes with a major-league invite and could be worth $1.25 million if Perez secures a roster spot this spring, with an additional $500,000 in potential performance bonuses.

Perez, 36, is coming off of a two-year run with the Nationals. He produced a 4.64 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 an d10.6 SO/9 through 50 relief appearances and 33 innings with the club in 2017. The veteran lefty hasn’t kept an ERA under 4.00 in at least four seasons, but he continues to be undeniably solid against left-handed batters, holding them to a .227/.301/.364 batting line over 18 1/3 innings last year.

While returning southpaw Wandy Peralta appears to have locked down a bullpen spot already, Perez will still compete for another role against fellow left-handers Cody Reed and Amir Garrett, both of whom also have experience in the rotation. If Perez doesn’t break camp with the team, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon notes, he’ll be permitted to opt out of his contract. The Reds are currently looking to bounce back from a dismal performance in 2017, one in which their bullpen ranked 28th among major league teams with a collective 5.63 ERA and -1.2 fWAR.