Giants designate infielder Matt Downs for assignment

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The Giants cleared a spot on their 25-man roster early this morning by designating infielder Matt Downs for assignment, according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News.  That will allow outfielder Cody Ross, who was picked up for cash considerations in a waiver deal Sunday, to join the big league team.

As Baggarly himself pointed out this weekend, the Giants only meant to claim Ross off waivers in order to block him from the Padres, who San Francisco is chasing in the National League West.  But the Fish jumped at the chance to unload the 29-year-old’s contract and now the outfield in San Fran is quite crowded.

Ross will join a shuffle that already includes Andres Torres, Pat Burrell, Jose Guillen, Aaron Rowand and Nate Schierholtz.  Needless to say, there won’t be much playing time available.

Downs, 26, is likely to pass through waivers with ease and head back to Triple-A Fresno.  He batted .244/.318/.372 with a home run and seven RBI in 78 at-bats this season for the big-league Giants.

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.