Rosenthal: the Dbacks will be “major players” for Tanaka

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Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes that The Diamondbacks “cannot be ruled out as major players” for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.

The idea is that the Dbacks were already prepared to spend $140 million or more for Shin-Soo Choo and thus have that money available for other uses. Looking around the free agent market right now there aren’t a ton of other great uses of it and the Diamondbacks’ efforts to make a trade for a front line starter have gone nowhere.

Lots of teams have an interest in Tanaka, of course. Matching up that interest with a demonstrated need and, more importantly, a demonstrated willingness and ability to spend the money required is what matters. After reading Rosenthal’s piece, you get the feeling that maybe Arizona is a more serious player than others.

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.