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Clayton Kershaw to start on Friday

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The Los Angeles Dodgers announced yesterday that Clayton Kershaw will start against the San Diego Padres on Friday. It will be his first start since facing off against the Braves on July 23.

Kershaw was placed on the disabled list on July 24 with a lower back strain. When he was shelved he had a 15-2 record with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141.1 innings. I guess he still does.

The Dodgers obviously don’t need him to win the NL West, but they’d obviously still like to get Kershaw some starts in during the season’s last month to tune him up for the playoffs. Assuming all is well with his back, his absence — while probably costing him a Cy Young Award — may actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise, giving him a lot of rest before the pressures of the playoffs.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.