Jurickson Profar making first career start in the outfield tonight

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Rangers manager Ron Washington first floated the possibility last month, but it’s finally happening.

Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram brings word that Jurickson Profar will make his first career start in left field in tonight’s game against the Astros. The 20-year-old has never played the outfield in pro ball, but the Rangers have had him work with outfield coach Gary Pettis over the past couple of weeks. While it’s a little surprising that they didn’t have him get any reps in the minors first, they are ready to embark on the experiment.

Profar is batting .259/.325/.380 with three home runs and nine RBI in 132 plate appearances at the major league level this season. It has been a challenge to find him playing time since Ian Kinsler returned from the disabled list, so the Rangers are hopeful that adding the outfield to his resume will help justify keeping him with the big club. The team still views him as a middle infielder in the long-term.

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.