The Royals get a national TV game

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Kansas City hasn’t been on Sunday Night Baseball for since 1996, but ESPN is going to televise their Sunday night game against the Angels on the Fourth of July.

Your non-mutually-exclusive conspiracy theories of the day: (1) Since it’s the Fourth of July, and everyone will be out watching fireworks and stuff, ESPN figures that the ratings will be awful anyway, so why not throw a small-market team a bone; (2) ESPN has an under-the-table deal with the Royals in which the team agrees to rig it to ensure that Zack Greinke starts.

The rest of the Sunday Night Baseball schedule for the first half of the season is here. Lots of Mets, Yankees, Phillies and Red Sox as usual, of course, but hey, given that there will be no Steve Phillips this year, I’d watch anyone they threw on there.

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.