The Orioles have called the Astros about Wandy Rodriguez

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We learned earlier this week that the Orioles are “going hard” after Brewers’ right-hander Zack Greinke, but it appears Dan Duquette has some other targets in mind as he attempts to upgrade the starting rotation.

According to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com, the Orioles have called the Astros to inquire about the availability of Wandy Rodriguez. Kubatko notes that Duquette is “talking to lots of teams,” so this could be a matter of due diligence, but Rodriguez is a logical name to pop up over the next couple of weeks.

Rodriguez has a 3.54 ERA through 17 starts with the Astros this season. While the 33-year-old southpaw has averaged a career-best 1.9 BB/9, his strikeout rate (5.8 K/9) is the lowest since his rookie season in 2005 and his and swinging strike rate (7.1 percent) is at a career-low level.

Rodriguez is owed roughly $5 million for the rest of this season and $13 million in 2013 while his contract includes a $13 million vesting option for 2014. The vesting option becomes a player option in the event of a trade, so that could complicate the ability of Astros GM Jeff Lunhow to find a suitor.

Coming into today’s action, Orioles starters rank 27th in the majors with a 4.73 ERA. While offseason acquisitions Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen have been pleasant surprises, the rest of the rotation has been pretty shaky.

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.