UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Tigers and Laird have agreed to a one-year deal, pending a physical.
12:30 PM: It’s backup catcher day here on Hardball Talk. Thanks for joining us.
Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com hears that the Tigers are “on the verge” of bringing back veteran backstop Gerald Laird. They were considering Kelly Shoppach in recent days, but Laird has emerged as their top choice.
Laird, who turned 32 on Sunday, batted .232/.302/.358 with one home run, 12 RBI and a .660 OPS over 108 plate appearances this season serving as Yadier Molina’s backup catcher in St. Louis. He also gunned down 20 percent (4-for-20) of attempted basestealers.
Laird played with the Tigers in 2009 and 2010 before signing with the Cardinals last offseason. Alex Avila led American League catchers with 130 starts this season and Victor Martinez is locked in as the primary designated hitter and third catcher moving forward, so the Tigers need a more reliable alternative than Omir Santos.
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.