Lance Berkman nearing return from knee surgery

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Lance Berkman will not be activated from the disabled list for the start of the second half tomorrow, but his return from knee surgery isn’t far off.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Berkman will travel with the Cardinals to Cincinnati after successfully lobbying that a minor league rehab assignment will not be necessary.

While Berkman’s knee is no longer an issue, he’ll have to shake the rust at the plate before being cleared to return. He took batting practice today at Busch Stadium and will go through the same routine at Great American Ballpark. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny believes it’s likely he’ll be activated at some point during the team’s upcoming six-game road trip.

Berkman was hitting .333 (14-for-42) with one homer and four RBI in 13 games prior to undergoing surgery on May 25 to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee. While his return likely means less at-bats for Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter, the 36-year-old isn’t expected to play every day initially.

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.