The Adam LaRoche market isn’t so hot and heavy after all

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The Nationals would very much like to keep free agent Adam LaRoche, but they’re sticking to their guns at the moment and only offering a two-year deal. Fortunately for them, it may yet be enough to get a deal done.

According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, the Rangers are not purusing LaRoche, and MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli writes that the Orioles’ interest seems “minimal at best.”

ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported earlier in the day that the Orioles were going in “hard” on LaRoche.

If the Rangers and Orioles aren’t involved, that may leave the Nationals and Mariners as LaRoche’s primary bidders. The Mariners may be legitimate threats there, but one wonders if they’d really overpay for LaRoche when they still have Justin Smoak and maybe Jesus Montero as possible long-term first basemen.

Update: In a twist, FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mariners are interested in acquiring Michael Morse from the Nationals. Presumably, they’d have to leave LaRoche alone and let him go back to Washington in order to have a shot at Morse.

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.