Cole Hamels downplays talk of Jered Weaver-like extension

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Cole Hamels and Jered Weaver are about as close as two pitchers get in terms of age, service time, and performance, leading to some natural speculation that Weaver’s five-year, $85 million extension with the Angels would clear the path for Hamels to sign a similar deal with the Phillies.

That may happen eventually, but Hamels is under the Phillies’ control through 2012 and for now at least isn’t thinking about his contract status. Hamels made it clear that he’d like to remain in Philadelphia, but also told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com:

I just want to play. That’s why I have an agent. He’ll take care of the rest. If I go out and play and I’m comfortable, good things will happen. That’s all I can affect. It’s a situation where it’s your choice and when the time comes people make choices. I think I’m more focused on trying to win a World Series right now with these guys. That’s been the only thing on my mind this year.

All of which is exactly what he should say, but when it does come time to talk extension the Weaver deal will almost surely serve as the starting point.

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.