Ubaldo Jimenez plans to pitch in winter ball

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Feeling that not getting enough work in the offseason led to his slow start, Ubaldo Jimenez said Thursday that he’s hoping to pitch winter ball.

Surprisingly enough, the Rockies are on board with Jimenez’s plan to pitch for the Licey Tigers this winter.  Jimenez indicated that he’d likely only make a handful of starts, possibly just four.

Jimenez pitched for Licey prior to the 2010 season that he started off 15-1 for the Rockies.  He was the NL’s starting pitcher in the All-Star Game that year and finished 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA.

After taking the winter off, Jimenez opened this season winless in his first nine starts.  His ERA remained over 6.00 into mid-May, but he has been much better since, going 6-3 with a 2.58 ERA since the beginning of June.

Of course, while Jimenez’s December stint in the Dominican Republic looks like a go for now, things could change if the Rockies decide to trade him or if he suffers an arm injury at some point within the next couple of months.  Teams tend to be shy even when it comes to letting veteran position players take part in winter ball.  Veteran pitchers typically have a very difficult time getting clearance, since teams don’t like them working in games unless they can monitor them themselves.

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.