Orioles “have had trade discussions” about J.J. Hardy and Jason Bartlett

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According to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun the Orioles “have had trade discussions” with the Twins about J.J. Hardy and with the Rays about Jason Bartlett.

Cesar Izturis was Baltimore’s starting shortstop this year, but he’s a free agent the team is clearly looking for an upgrade offensively.

Previous reports had the Rays shopping Bartlett with an eye toward turning shortstop over to Reid Brignac and there’s been speculation that the Twins may non-tender Hardy because they’re looking to add more speed at the position (which, to me, would be a big mistake).

Zrebiec notes that the Orioles “haven’t ruled out” bringing back Izturis and says talks with the Rays for Bartlett have included right-hander David Hernandez potentially going to Tampa Bay. No word on what they’d be offering the Twins for Hardy. Bartlett and Hardy are both one season away from being free agents.

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.