Papelbon changes tune on Wagner, not a Rhodes Scholar

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Remember all that stuff about Jonathan Papelbon not wanting the Red Sox to acquire Billy Wagner? Well, either he changed his stance or the Red Sox forced him to change his public stance, because general manager Theo Epstein revealed yesterday that Papelbon “went out of his way to make sure Billy knew that he was more than welcome here.”
Here’s what Papelbon had to say after the trade went down yesterday afternoon:
I think the biggest thing is he’s going to bring some competitiveness to the ballclub, not just to the ballclub, but to the bullpen. Hopefully, he will help us in that stretch run towards a championship. I know the only reason he’s coming over here is to win a championship, and that’s something everybody’s on board with.
I’ve watched him throughout the years. The biggest thing is he pitches with heart. I love guys like that. I like guys who go out there and they wear their heart on their sleeve, and with that “I’m going to get you or you’re going to get me” type of attitude. I’m actually looking really forward to him coming here and kind of picking his brain, seeing how he works, and maybe picking up a couple things from him.

Quite a change from just a few days ago, but then again as Epstein aptly pointed out: “I think Pap feels like he was misunderstood. He’s not a Rhodes Scholar to begin with, obviously.”

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.