Mets interested in Rafael Furcal

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In their search for a shortstop alternative to Ruben Tejada the Mets “have contacted” Rafael Furcal, according to Jorge Castillo of the Newark Star Ledger.

Castillo reports that Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Drew are the Mets’ top shortstop targets, but if both get out of their price range (or they decide not to give up a draft pick to sign Drew) then Furcal might make some sense.

Furcal missed the entire season following Tommy John surgery and at age 36 a successful comeback is far from guaranteed, especially at shortstop. He hit just .264 with five homers and a .671 OPS in 121 games for the Cardinals in 2012, undergoing the elbow surgery this spring.

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.