Reds, Pirates and Indians among teams interested in Carlos Quentin

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The next 24 hours will be dominated by All-Star Game coverage, but it won’t be long before this space is filled with rumors leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. And we’re already hearing some chatter regarding one of the most popular names on the market.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is reporting that the Reds, Pirates and Indians are among the teams who have expressed interest in Padres’ outfielder Carlos Quentin. The Marlins inquired at one point, but it’s not clear if they still have interest after acquiring Carlos Lee last week. The Tigers and Blue Jays were initially mentioned as possibilities, but they are now looking to upgrade in other areas.

The Padres acquired Quentin from the White Sox during the offseason, but their poor first half (34-53) has rendered him a logical trade chip. The 29-year-old didn’t make his season debut until May 28 following knee surgery, but he’s hitting .268/.408/.518 with seven home runs, 17 RBI and a .924 OPS through 138 plate appearances. While the Padres have expressed interest in a long-term deal for the San Diego native, the team’s unsettled ownership situation puts a wrinkle into any such plans.

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.