Pablo Sandoval needs to get back to Camp Panda

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Andrew Baggarly thinks that Pablo Sandoval’s biggest problem this year is his conditioning:

I’ve noticed in recent weeks that Sandoval has lost a step from last
season. Some time toward the end of the last homestand, he got thrown
out trying to stretch a single into a double. It would’ve been an easy
double for him a year ago, I thought.

I’ve seen him after taking ground balls at third base, even in cool weather. He’s got his hands on his knees, gasping.

Of all the speculated reasons for his severe dropoff at the plate
this year, I think conditioning is the simplest and most logical one.
It’s alarming when a 23-year-old kid is already losing a step in the
field.

I couldn’t tell last night if Sandoval’s failure to move over to third on Tim Lincecum’s bunt last night was a mental error or a physical one, but the guy does seem off this season.  And obviously he doesn’t appear to be in great shape.  Baggarly, obviously, would know better, having watched him nearly every day for the past six months.

I like the Panda, though, and I hope that he takes his conditioning more seriously going forward. Because I liked Kevin Mitchell and Dmitri Young too, and those dudes ate their way out of the league.

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.