Rafael Furcal ruled out for rest of season due to elbow injury

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Rafael Furcal is currently rehabbing a strained ligament in his right elbow. He was originally given a 4-6 week timetable, which left open the long shot possibility that he could return if club goes on another deep run in the postseason, but the Cardinals closed that window today.

According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has officially ruled Furcal out for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs.

Furcal received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his elbow on September 4, but has yet to resume throwing. Mozeliak still believes he’ll be able to avoid surgery, but said the clock simply “was not on our side” for him to contribute again this year. The 34-year-old shortstop batted .264 with five homers, 12 steals, and a .671 OPS in 121 games this season and is under contract for $7 million in 2013.

2007 first-round pick Pete Kozma has emerged as the starting shortstop in Furcal’s absence. The 24-year-old launched his first major league home run in yesterday’s win over the Cubs and has another one tonight against the Astros.

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.