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Rockies sign Ryan Howard to a minor league deal

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The Rockies inked first baseman Ryan Howard to a minor league contract on Saturday, per a team announcement. Howard signed a minors deal with the Braves at the start of the 2017 season, but was released by the team in May after an 11-game stint in Triple-A Gwinnett.

The 37-year-old infielder has yet to find a landing place in the big leagues after capping a 13-year run with the Phillies in 2016. His final season in the majors yielded uneven results, pairing an impressive 25 home runs with a less impressive .196/.257/.453 batting line in 362 PA.

While he’s far-removed from the 50+ homer, .300+ average of his peak years in Philadelphia, Howard could still bring some veteran experience and modest power potential to the plate in Colorado. Should he secure a spot on the active roster come September, he figures to slot in behind starting first baseman Mark Reynolds, who’s already mashing .278/.363/.504 with 23 homers and an .867 OPS, and No. 3 infield prospect Ryan McMahon.

Clayton Kershaw could return on September 1

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Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw has been out since July 24 with a lower back strain. He’s slated to throw a three-inning simulated game in Pittsburgh on Monday, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. Plunkett adds that if all goes well, the earliest Kershaw could return is August 31 against the Diamondbacks, but September 1 is more likely against the Padres.

Kershaw, 29, hit the disabled list on a pace to win his fourth Cy Young Award. He’s 15-2 with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.

The Dodgers have managed just fine without Kershaw. The club is 19-4 since July 24. At 87-35, the Dodgers own baseball’s best record, well ahead of the second-best Astros at 76-48.

Ian Kinsler was fined for ripping umpires publicly. Brad Ausmus says it’s the largest fine he’s seen in 25 years.

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Last week, Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler was ejected from a game against the Rangers after giving home plate umpire Angel Hernandez a look after a pitch was thrown outside for a ball. Kinsler was apparently unhappy with calls Hernandez had made earlier. Manager Brad Ausmus, too, was ejected.

After the game, Kinsler said that Hernandez “needs to find another job.” He added, “…he needs to stop ruining baseball games.”

Kinsler was fined by Major League Baseball for his remarks, Mlive’s Evan Woodbery reports. According to Ausmus, the fine levied on Kinsler was the largest one he’s seen in nearly 25 years in baseball. Kinsler said, “I said what I felt and what I thought. If they take offense to that, then that’s their problem.” Ausmus said, “To single out one player as a union is completely uncalled for.”

As Ashley noted on Saturday, the umpires wore white wristbands to protest “escalating attacks on umpires.” The umpires agreed to drop their protest on Sunday after commissioner Rob Manfred agreed to meet with the umpire union’s governing board, Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reports.