Pirates may be ready to bench struggling Lyle Overbay

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In past years–or past decades, more accurately–the Pirates may have lived with an unproductive veteran first baseman, but with the team in contention for the first time in a long time their patience with Lyle Overbay appears to be running out.

Signed to a one-year, $5 million deal as a free agent, Overbay has hit just .229 with seven homers in 99 games, posting a .646 OPS that ranks 24th among the 26 first basemen with at least 250 plate appearances.

Clint Hurdle indicated to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com that increasing Steve Pearce’s playing time at Overbay’s expense is one option, but Pearce has been even less productive in a part-time role with a .636 OPS.

Pursuing another veteran bat via trade makes sense and Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that the Pirates are interested in Jason Kubel of the Twins. Of course, with Minnesota unsure whether to buy or sell Kubel may ultimately not even be available. Whatever the case, with the Pirates just 1.5 games out of first place and Overbay adding nothing at an offense-driven position it shouldn’t be too tough or too costly to find an upgrade.

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.