Astros catcher Jason Castro may play in Arizona Fall League after missing season

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Jason Castro has missed the entire season after tearing his ACL early in spring training, so the Astros may get their projected starting catcher some 2011 playing time by asking him to play in the Arizona Fall League.

Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle reports that Castro is eligible for the AFL despite playing 67 games in the majors last season and as a 24-year-old 2008 first-round pick he won’t be hugely out of place among the prospects.

Castro was slated to be the Opening Day catcher in Houston and in his absence the Astros have gotten a combined .216 batting average and five homers from the position, which is good for a .572 OPS that ranks dead last among NL teams.

Castro wasn’t going to be a superstar or anything, but his injury is one of many reasons why Houston is trying to avoid a 110-loss season.

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.