Padres’ veteran double play duo Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett “could be released”

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In trading standout reliever Ernesto Frieri to the Angels yesterday the Padres picked up a prospect they hope will be their long-term second baseman in Alexi Amarista.

He doesn’t project as a star player and for now Amarista is at Triple-A anyway, but Dan Hayes of the North County Times reports that the clock may be ticking on the Padres’ current double-play duo of veterans Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett.

In fact, Hayes writes that “team sources have confirmed that neither player is in the Padres’ long-term plans” and “both could be released before the season ends.”

Bartlett is hitting .164 and has a $5.5 million option or $1.5 million buyout for next season that vests if he reaches 432 plate appearances, which could make it tough to unload him via trade. Hudson is hitting .210 and has an $8 million option or $2 million buyout for next season, but with no plate appearance-based vesting he might be a bit easier to unload if San Diego eats all the remaining salary.

Whatever the case, Hayes clearly thinks there’s a good chance Amarista and Everth Cabrera are the Padres’ double-play duo in the second half. And maybe before then.

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.