Gregg Zaun wants to play for the Rays in 2011 at age 40

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Gregg Zaun missed most of this season following shoulder surgery, but the 40-year-old catcher plans to play in 2011 and recently told Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio that he’d prefer it be for the Rays.

Zaun played 34 games for the Rays in 2009 after being acquired from the Orioles in midseason trade, but it’s tough to see a fit for him in Tampa at this point with John Jaso entrenched as the primary catcher and Kelly Shoppach under contract as his backup/platoon-mate. And the Rays still have to figure out what to do with Dioner Navarro too.

Milwaukee declined its $2.25 million option on Zaun last week, choosing a $250,000 buyout instead. Zaun has always flown under the radar somewhat as a switch-hitting catcher with strong on-base skills and prior to the shoulder problems he was productive for the Brewers, hitting .265 with a .350 OBP.

Assuming he’s reasonably healthy Zaun would be a solid fit as a veteran backup somewhere, but Tampa Bay may not be the place.

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.