Two weeks after signing with the Indians on a minor-league contract Johnny Damon is expected to join the team for their series against the White Sox that begins tomorrow, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Damon has been playing extended spring training games to get ready and has apparently looked good enough that they canceled plans to have him spend some time at Triple-A.
As part of his contract Damon can opt out on Tuesday if he’s not in the majors, but with Shelley Duncan in an extended slump and the Indians’ lineup failing to produce much of anything last week the 38-year-old veteran figures to see significant action in left field right away.
At this point in his career Damon is hardly an impact hitter, posting a .261 batting average with 16 homers and a modest .743 OPS in 150 games for the Rays last season, but if spotted mostly versus right-handed pitching he can still be useful and his contract is worth just $1.25 million in guaranteed money once he cracks the big-league roster. He can earn another $1.4 million in incentives.
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.