Brandon Webb pitches six innings in extended spring game

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Brandon Webb took away some encouraging signs after throwing six innings against Padres minor leaguers in Arizona on Tuesday.  He hit 84 mph on the gun while allowing four runs — one earned — and six hits in six innings, Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas reports.

He struck out five and walked none, though he did hit two batters.

“Today I felt like I was able to locate more,” he said. “The other times I was just throwing it down the middle, trying to get velocity and not really worrying about where it went and stuff like that. Today it was more about pitch-ability.”

Webb said he hit 86 mph on the gun a couple of outings ago.  He wasn’t there today, but he has picked up some velocity while getting his arm back into shape.

“It’s probably some of the best stuff I’ve had, I think,” he said. “My curve ball has been kind of loopy. For the most part it was pretty good today. It was just a matter of getting the hand speed out in front instead of kind of babying it in there or whatever.”

Webb is probably going to have to start throwing in the mid-80s consistently if he’s going to help the Rangers this year.  The team hasn’t announced what’s in store for him next, but it sounds like he’s about ready to begin an official 30-day rehab assignment in the minors.

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.