Padres acquire Seth Smith from A’s for Luke Gregerson

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Clearing out their outfield logjam a bit following the deal for Craig Gentry earlier today the A’s have traded Seth Smith to the Padres for reliever Luke Gregerson.

Smith put up some big numbers in Colorado early in his career, but hit just .246 with a .738 OPS in 242 games for Oakland during the past two seasons. It’s unclear exactly what Smith’s role will be in San Diego, although he’s best suited to be a platoon corner outfielder versus right-handed pitching.

Gregerson has posted consistently excellent numbers as a setup man for the Padres, including a sub-3.00 ERA in each of the past three seasons and a career strikeout rate of 9.1 per nine innings. However, much like Smith’s numbers were once helped by Coors Field, his career ERA away from pitcher-friendly Petco Park is 3.85.

Billy Beane is on a trade-making tear, including adding Jim Johnson and Gregerson to a bullpen that already had plenty of late-inning options (Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle) even after losing Grant Balfour to free agency.

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.