Elbow issue could derail that big Felix Hernandez extension

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported on Thursday that the Mariners had reached agreement on a seven-year, $175 million contract extension with staff ace Felix Hernandez. But something apparently went wrong during the righty’s pre-signing physical.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, there is some concern about the status of Hernandez’s pitching elbow which “could affect contract talks.”

That’s all the information we have for now, but you can bet that more details will trickle out soon.

Hernandez, 26, posted a superb 3.06 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 223/56 K/BB ratio in 232 innings last season.

He is currently under contract for $19.5 million in 2013 and $20 million in 2014.

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UPDATE, 3:20 PM: Olney provides a little more insight in his story filed to ESPN.com:

The elbow issue is perceived by at least one of the parties in the deal as being a possible impediment to the completion of the new contract.

“It’s an issue,” said one source.

UPDATE, 3:37 PM: Nightengale hears that both sides are “still hoping to complete” the seven-year, $175  million contract extension. Perhaps the Mariners will try to add some injury clauses.

UPDATE, 4:18 PM: Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik gave a “no comment” to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times about the situation but noted that Felix will report to camp on schedule this week.

UPDATE, 4:39 PM: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says it could take a week, month or more to work through “various issues” in the language of the extension.

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.