Brewers bench Corey Hart for Jim Edmonds

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Not only did Jim Edmonds earn a spot on the Brewers at age 39 after sitting out all of last season, he’s in their Opening Day lineup starting in place of Corey Hart in right field and batting fifth behind Prince Fielder.
Hart was brutal this spring, batting 11-for-64 (.172) with 18 strikeouts while Edmonds went 14-for-48 (.292) with two homers and four doubles, and getting an extra left-handed bat into the lineup against Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez no doubt played a part in manager Ken Macha’s decision as well.
During his career Jimenez has held righties to a .220 batting average and .624 OPS compared to a .248 batting average and .715 OPS from lefties. Similarly, over the past three seasons Hart has an .861 OPS against lefties compared to .778 against righties, and prior to sitting out last year Edmonds posted a robust .882 OPS versus righties in 2008.
In other words, starting Edmonds over Hart in right field today probably gives the Brewers a slightly better chance to beat Jimenez and the Rockies, but given that Hart has been their everyday right fielder for the past three years and Edmonds didn’t play at all in 2009 it certainly qualifies as an Opening Day surprise by Macha.

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.