Allen Craig could return from the disabled list in a week

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When outfielder Allen Craig jammed his left foot on the first base bag in his first game since being traded to the Red Sox, there was some speculation that he might be shut down for the remainder of the 2014 season. Craig suffered a left Lisfranc fracture in late 2013 and hasn’t been right since, so calling it quits and aiming for a fresh start in 2015 would make sense. But it doesn’t sound like that’s the plan.

According to beat writer Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe, Craig “got positive news from foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson on Friday and could come off the disabled list when eligible this month.”

The first day Craig is eligible to be activated is August 17 — next Sunday.

“We’re taking every step to ramp up his baseball activities and get him back on the field as soon as possible,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters this weekend in Anaheim. “The Lisfranc injury, that was still seen in the MRI that was done. But don’t feel that there were any chronic changes to what was viewed last year. Our approach is to get him playing and we’ll see if there’s adverse effect to more aggressive play.”

Craig was one of the most productive hitters in the National League from 2011-2013, batting .312/.364/.500 with 46 home runs and 229 RBI in 328 games for St. Louis. This year, he’s hit .237/.291/.348 in 98 games.

Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are interested in Pat Neshek

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At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.

Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.

Clayton Kershaw’s initial prognosis: 4-6 weeks on the disabled list

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Some seriously bad news for the Dodgers: Ken Rosenthal reports that the initial prognosis on Clayton Kershaw is that he will miss 4-6 weeks with his bad back. A final determination will be made after he gets a second medical consultation.

Kershaw exited Sunday’s start against the Braves with back tightness after just two innings of work. He was seen talking with trainers in the dugout after completing the top of the second inning and did not return to the mound for the third. Kershaw has a history of back problems. Last year he missed over two months with a herniated disc in his back.

Assuming the preliminary schedule holds, Kershaw would be on the shelf until late August at the earliest, but more likely early-to-mid September. The Dodgers currently hold a 10.5 game lead in the NL West so they can withstand his absence. But if they have any hopes of advancing in the playoffs, they’ll need a fully armed and operational Clayton Kershaw to do it.