Orioles have talked to Nelson Cruz

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Like a college student cramming before a big exam, the Orioles are desperately trying to put together a competitive roster before spring training exhibition games begin. We learned earlier that the O’s were showing interest in Ervin Santana even after having signed Ubaldo Jimenez, and that they were “intensifying their interest” in DH Kendrys Morales.

You can add another name to the list. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Orioles have been talking to Nelson Cruz in their search for a hitter. Heyman writes that the Orioles “seem likely” to land either Cruz or Morales. They don’t have to worry about giving up their #17 pick anymore, as they already relinquished it having signed Jimenez. Now, they would have to give up their second round pick, 55th overall, per Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.

Cruz served a 50-game suspension starting in early August last season for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. Cruz also has health concerns, having played in no more than 128 games from 2009-11. Additionally, he is 33 years old, which along with his associated draft pick compensation, made it tough for teams to justify handing him the big contract he was hoping to find earlier in the off-season.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.