X-rays on Michael Morse’s hand come back negative

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UPDATE: Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that X-rays on Morse’s hand came back negative. He’ll likely have to miss a few days, but it looks like the Nats caught a break.

8:09 PM: The Nationals just announced that Morse left the game with a right hand contusion. We’ll likely hear more on his status after the game.

7:40 PM: Scary moment tonight for the first-place Nationals.

From Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com comes word that Michael Morse left tonight’s game against the Phillies in the first inning after being hit in the right hand by a pitch from Phillies’ right-hander Kyle Kendrick. He was in quite a deal of pain when he left the field and was replaced by Roger Bernadina on the basepaths and in left field.

Losing Morse for an extended period of time would obviously be quite a blow to the Nationals’ offense, which has really clicked over the past two months. The 30-year-old didn’t make his season debut this year until June 2 due to a strained lat muscle, but he’s hitting .286/.316/.459 with 12 home runs, 45 RBI and a .775 OPS in 73 games played.

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.