Cardinals GM not counting on Rafael Furcal, Lance Berkman

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If the Cardinals are going to make a deep playoff run it sounds like it will have to be without shortstop Rafael Furcal and probably without first baseman Lance Berkman too.

General manager John Mozeliak was pessimistic about the chances of either player returning from injury this season and in fact Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch writes that he “all but extinguished hope” for Furcal’s return.

“The clock’s not on our side,” Mozeliak said about Furcal, who hasn’t played since injuring his elbow on August 30 and may eventually need surgery that comes with a six-month recovery timetable.

Berkman’s odds of returning are better, but Strauss reports that he’s yet to swing a bat since undergoing a second knee surgery and has toned down his recent optimism about potentially coming back.

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.