The Indians sign Ben Francisco to a minor league deal

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Ben Francisco was drafted by the Indians in 2002, played in their system and on the big club through 2009 and then was cast out into the cold, cold non-Ohio world. After tours through Philly, Toronto, Houston and Tampa Bay, with those last three teams all employing him during the 2012 season.  He has returned home, however, as the Indians have signed the outfielder to a minor league deal. Well, to his professional home. Dude is form California.

He’s 31 now, and has a career line of .257/.326/.455 with 49 homers in 1,721 career plate appearances. Given how well the organization knows him and given how thin the Indians’ outfield is, he stands a pretty good chance of finding a big league job this year.

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.