Orioles sign former top-10 pick Matt LaPorta

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Former first-round pick Matt LaPorta, whose career was derailed by multiple injuries, has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Orioles.

Baltimore previously signed Delmon Young to a minor-league deal and they’re similar enough as right-handed bats and defensively challenged corner outfielders/first basemen that it could end up being a competition for one bench spot.

LaPorta was the seventh overall pick in the 2007 draft out of the University of Florida and was billed as being close to MLB ready, but he’s hit just .238 with 31 homers and a .694 OPS in 291 career games. Once a top-30 prospect on Baseball America‘s list in back-to-back years, he mostly struggled at Triple-A last season as a 28-year-old.

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.