J.D. Drew already has his first nagging injury of 2011

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Buried in Nick Cafardo’s excellent Sunday notes column on the Boston Globe‘s website is this bit of troubling news for Red Sox fans: J.D. Drew has been experiencing discomfort in his hamstring this offseason and is likely to be limited when spring training opens later this month.

Drew battled hamstring problems throughout much of the 2010 season.  He didn’t hit the disabled list once, but that seems likely to change this year if he is already having struggles here in early February.

The good news is that the Red Sox have enough depth to handle the two- or three-week stints when he goes down.  Ryan Kalish is a well-rounded player and just about ready to become a big league regular.  Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald are both quality backups, too.

Boston is used to Drew’s nagging injuries.  He started only 127 games in 2010, 124 in 2009 and 105 in 2008.  That he’s already having problems is unfortunate, but the Sox are prepared.

Drew, 35, is entering the final season of a five-year, $72 million contract that he signed in December of 2006.  He has spoken a few times about retiring when the 2011 season concludes.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.