Cole Hamels says his shoulder feels fine

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Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. revealed earlier this month that Cole Hamels felt some shoulder soreness down the stretch last season and again when he ramped up his offseason throwing program, but he also downplayed any long-term concerns. While Hamels was similarly unconcerned about the situation in speaking to reporters before the annual Philadelphia Sportswriters Banquet tonight, he had a slightly different account of how things went down.

According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Hamels confirmed that he felt some soreness in September, but he dismissed it as normal wear and tear and wasn’t alarmed. However, where the two stories differ is that Hamels denied encountering any soreness this offseason. It’s hard to believe that Amaro could be so wrong about something he was so specific about, but the good news for Phillies fans is that Hamels feels fine now and is ready to go for spring training.

Hamels, 29, posted a 3.05 ERA and 216/52 K/BB ratio over 215 1/3 innings in 2012. He signed a six-year, $144 million extension with the Phillies last July.

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.