Reds among teams interested in Juan Pierre

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We’ve heard all sorts of chatter about the Phillies possibly moving impending free agents Cole Hamels or Shane Victorino if GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. decides to become a seller before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but they aren’t the only players drawing interest from opposing general managers.

ESPN’s Buster Olney reported last night that Reds are among the teams who have expressed interest in outfielder Juan Pierre. Entering today’s action, Reds leadoff hitters rank dead-last in the majors this season in batting average (.201), on-base percentage (.246) and OPS (.562), so GM Walt Jocketty is keeping the phone lines open for an upgrade.

Pierre joined the Phillies on a minor league deal over the winter and is hitting .312/.349/.380 with one home run, 17 RBI and a .730 OPS through 72 games played this season. The 34-year-old outfielder is currently tied for fourth in the majors with 20 stolen bases. If acquired by the Reds, he would likely be used as part of an outfield rotation with Drew Stubbs, Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey.

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.