Real spring training games start today

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Spring training games aren’t actually real. Especially February spring training games. But they are more real than games against college teams like we say yesterday which are, in turn, more real than mere workouts which we’ve seen for the past week which are, in turn, way more real than sitting around all winter with our thumbs up our posteriors waiting for baseball.

Point is, no matter how short an outing the starting pitchers of today’s games are, no matter how many hours the actual major leaguers have been on the golf course by the time today’s games end and no matter how slow and tentative the play is compared to the actual regular season, today will feature games in which professional baseball players play professional baseball against other professional baseball players. And that’s not nothing. In fact, it’s pretty exciting.

Indeed, I just saw the lineup for the Braves-Tigers game at 1pm today. B.J. Upton is batting second. I’m sure it’s just because they want to give him more at bats earlier in the game, but I actually found myself getting outraged about B.J. Upton batting second and I complained about it on Twitter. For the first game of spring training.

Maybe that’s the definition of petty. But I don’t care. They’re playing baseball today.

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.