Nationals “have interest” in Jorge De La Rosa

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Apparently the Yankees aren’t the only team viewing Jorge De La Rosa as the “left-handed starting pitcher” fallback plan should they miss out on Cliff Lee, as Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the Nationals “have interest” in De La Rosa.

Of course, given Washington’s slim odds of actually signing Lee perhaps it’s not fair to call their pursuit of De La Rosa a fallback plan.

Ladson notes that Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo actually signed a 17-year-old De La Rosa out of Mexico when he was the Diamondbacks’ scouting director in 1998. Whether or not that makes Rizzo any more likely to sign De La Rosa again a dozen years later is up for debate, but clearly quite a few teams view him as a top free-agent target in a weak market for starting pitching.

My guess is the 30-year-old southpaw with a 5.02 career ERA is about to be significantly overpaid.

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.