Nationals set to hire Matt Williams as new manager

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Bill Ladson of MLB.com reported yesterday that Matt Williams was the front-runner to replace Davey Johnson as Nationals manager and now Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Washington plans to hire the Diamondbacks third base coach.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo is hoping that Randy Knorr will agree to serve as Williams’ bench coach after filling the same role on Johnson’s staff and interviewing for the manager gig himself. Knorr was the candidate several Nationals players voiced support for publicly, so it could be a tricky situation potentially.

With zero big-league managing experience and a hard-nosed approach–he was on Kirk Gibson’s grit-filled staff in Arizona, after all–the 47-year-old Williams certainly appears to be a lot different than Johnson. He also played 17 seasons in the majors, appearing in six All-Star games and finishing runner-up for the MVP in 1994 before getting into coaching.

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.