Troy Percival's career likely over

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Via MLB Trade rumors is word that Troy Percival is leaning towards retirement:

RHP Troy Percival hasn’t announced his retirement, but after corresponding with him last week, manager Joe Maddon is under the impression his career is over.

“I think so,” Maddon said . . . Agent Paul Cohen said Sunday that no decision has been made but Percival has been having severe back problems and will see a specialist this week with the possibility of needing a fusion.

I have no idea what “a fusion” really entails, but it doesn’t sound like the sort of thing a 40 year-old pitcher comes back from.

Seeing Percival come back after missing the entire 2006 season was impressive, and the fact that he came back and pitched really really well for the Cardinals and decently enough for the Rays was even more impressive.  He was one of the truly underrated closers during his decade with the Angels and will be missed.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.