Reliever Luis Ayala unharmed in kidnapping attempt

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Relief pitcher Luis Ayala, who is under a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, was unharmed when gunmen stormed his house in Culiacan, Mexico, on Tuesday in an apparent kidnapping attempt.

Martin Robles, a spokesman for the state prosecutors’ office, said investigators believed Ayala was the intended victim, whom police prevented from being abducted.

Robles said gunmen in three vehicles forced their way into Ayala’s home near the city of Los Mochis on Monday by shooting open the door.

The assailants were apparently scared off when soldiers arrived at the scene after police received an emergency phone call. Ayala and his family were not hurt, though the pitcher was found handcuffed.

Ayala is 29-39 with a 3.67 ERA in six seasons with the Expos/Nats, Mets, Twins and Marlins.

This is just the latest is what seems to be a growing trend. In November, the mother of former pitcher Victor Zambrano was kidnapped and later rescued, and last season, the son of catcher Yorvit Torrealba was also kidnapped.

Just last month Mets ace Johan Santana returned to Venezuela, but not without a security detail for he and his family.

You have to wonder at what point “going home” simply isn’t worth the danger anymore, for both the player and his family.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks.

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.