Tony La Russa’s explanation for snubbing Johnny Cueto is suspect

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Yesterday Tony La Russa left Johnny Cueto off the All-Star team despite Cueto having the kind of numbers which usually ensure All-Star status.

Dusty Baker said it was because La Russa was holding a grudge over that ugly 2010 brawl in which Cueto ended Jason LaRue’s career with the kicks to the head. La Russa denied that, acted like his integrity was being insulted and said, no, it was because Cueto was scheduled to pitch on Sunday, thus making him unavailable for the All-Star Game.

John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer just burnt that house down, however, by noting the new language regarding Sunday starters in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Specifically, a guy is starting on the Sunday before the game is no justification for not selecting him:

(ii) Sunday Pitcher Rule. Any starting pitcher elected or selected to the All-Star team who makes a start on the Sunday immediately preceding the All-Star Game (“Sunday Pitcher”) shall have the option to participate or not participate in the All-Star Game. If such starting pitcher elects to participate in the All-Star Game, he will not be permitted to pitch for more than one inning, and he may also inform his manager that he should be removed from the game if he reaches a certain pitch count (irrespective of whether he has completed one inning), provided such pitch count is reasonable. If a Sunday Pitcher who was originally named to the team elects not to participate in the All-Star Game, he will be replaced on the roster but treated in the same manner as other All-Stars who are excused from participation, and he will be encouraged to attend and be announced at the All-Star Game.

If La Russa had said nothing in response to Baker and Cueto’s comments the story dies and the benefit of the doubt is probably given. But I suspect the last person on the planet who is unaware of the rules applicable to this situation is Tony La Russa, Esq.  And his reasoning for keeping Cueto off the team seems pretty weak at the moment.

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.