Rafael Furcal to get second opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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After saying over the weekend that his ailing right elbow wasn’t “getting better,” Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal was examined by team medical director Dr. George Paletta today. However, it appears that we’re going to have to wait for word about his status, as MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Furcal will get a second opinion on his elbow from Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday.

Furcal was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament last August, but he opted to go the rehab route rather than undergo Tommy John surgery. The Cardinals were upbeat about the veteran shortstop leading up to spring training, but he felt renewed discomfort in the early days of camp and was recently shut down from baseball activities. If it is determined that Tommy John surgery is required, Furcal would miss the entire season.

Ronny Cedeno, who joined the Cardinals this winter on a one-year, $1.15 million deal, currently projects to open the year as the starting shortstop. Pete Kozma and Ryan Jackson are among the other in-house alternatives.

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.