Victorino says his contract status is on his mind

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I bet every single player who is approaching free agency thinks about it. They usually say it doesn’t enter their mind, but it has to, right?  Shane Victorino is one of the rare ones who admits that the pressures of impending free agency do weigh on his mind:

“I can’t say they’re not. … I also can’t say they are,” Victorino said. “Is there a little something in the back of my mind, yeah. You want to have your best year.”

He also says that he’d love to stay in Philly and would like to start talks now if possible.  That’s not likely to happen — you figure the Phillies will wait and deal with Cole Hamels first — but if Ruben Amaro does see Victorino as someone he wants to keep around long term, it wouldn’t be the worst time to make an offer, would it?  Victorino is off to a slow start and could probably be had a bit cheaper now than he might if he turns things around in the second half.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.