Melky Cabrera is a finalist for the “Heart and Hustle” award

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OK, so this was apparently announced way back in July, but I didn’t notice it until Mike Bates pointed it out on Twitter this afternoon and … well, you’ll see.

Each year the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association gives out a “Heart and Hustle” award “to a player who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit, and traditions of the game.”

As part of the voting process one player from each of the 30 teams is selected as a finalist “based on the passion, desire, and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field.”

All of which makes this pretty amazing: Melky Cabrera is the Giants’ finalist for the “Heart and Hustle” award this year after missing the end of the regular season and being left off the postseason roster following his 50-game suspension for a performance-enhancing drug.

As pictured below, Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda presented Cabrera with the team version of the “Heart and Hustle” award on August 1, two weeks before his suspension was announced:

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And you can still vote for him on MLB.com and everything:

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MLB.com balloting only counts for five percent of the total “Heart and Hustle” vote or else this whole thing could get really fun. With his $300,000 in playoff share money Cabrera could build a shrine to display his award.

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.