Bring back Terry Francona!

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“For whatever reason, owner John Henry and GM Ben Cherington chose not to fire Valentine on Monday …”

That quote, from the never quick-to-call-for-the-axe Ken Rosenthal, pretty much sums up your early morning long form reading.  Here’s Rosenthal’s take on what the Red Sox should do — re-hire Terry Francona! — and here’s Jeff Passan’s take on why Bobby Valentine was such a dumbass hire to begin with and a look at just how bad it’s gotten in the Red Sox clubhouse.

Rosenthal’s idea is a fun one, even if he himself admits that it’ll never happen. No, for the Red Sox to re-hire Francona John Henry and Larry Lucchino would have to admit that they made a gigantic blunder. And Francona would have to set aside what is likely still considerable anger over just how forcefully he was thrown under the bus last fall. This despite the fact that, yeah, Francona is still the best guy for that job.

You have to figure, though, that Valentine is gone the day after the season ends regardless. And the question Rosenthal asks — who replaces him — is a pretty darn good one, with no good answers available.

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.