Cardinals won’t make Matt Holliday switch positions

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The St. Louis Cardinals will not be moving Matt Holliday to right field to make room for Lance Berkman, manager Tony La Russa said on Sunday.

La Russa’s statement came at a press conference shortly after Holliday stated publically he would like to know if he would be switching from left to right field for the 2011 season. Holliday said he was willing to switch, but would like to know so he could prepare himself, “just for repetitions sake.”

But La Russa made it clear that Berkman would be the team’s right fielder.

“Lance will make the routine play out there, there’s no doubt in my mind,” the manager said. “That’s where he’s going to play, and Matt doesn’t have to make a change.”

This could be an adventure. Holliday is a very good defensive left fielder, ranking fourth in UZR at his position in 2010, so it makes sense to keep him where he is.

And Berkman, 35, has reportedly lost 20 pounds to prepare in anticipation of a return to the outfield. But while Berkman has played 963 games in the outfield, including 166 in center field, none of those games have come in the last three seasons, and he never graded out well defensively as an outfielder anyway.

But La Russa, never one to succumb to conventional thinking, refused to entertain the notion that the Cardinals will be giving up defense to put Berkman’s bat in the lineup.

“We’re not giving up the routine play, that’s what you worry about,” La Russa said. “He’s got a hell of a bat and he’s going to be an average, at least, outfielder.

“I don’t feel like we’re conceding anything.”

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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.