Tony La Russa declines to address White Sox speculation

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Tony La Russa managed the White Sox from 1979-1986 and there’s already speculation about his possibly being interested in the job again following Ozzie Guillen’s departure, but the Cardinals skipper declined to address his status yesterday.

“We’re not going to be distracted because you’re not getting me to answer anything except about this series here,” La Russa told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “I have an issue with me answering any speculation because it’s exactly the opposite of what the club should be getting from a guy who is making out the lineup.”

Tough to blame La Russa for wanting to focus on his team’s playoff push, but then again simply denying any interest in the White Sox job would probably have taken exactly as much time as refusing to talk about the speculation. And when told refusing to comment might fuel the speculation even further, he replied: “It’s healthy to have fun, isn’t it? They say if you smile 10 times a day you’re healthy. I’m hope everyone is having fun.”

Strauss notes that La Russa has a “longstanding relationship with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf” and “Reinsdorf contacted La Russa about his interest in the job prior to hiring Guillen following the 2003 season.” La Russa is technically under contract for 2012, which would be his 17th season as Cardinals manager, but it’s a mutual option.

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.