Shane Victorino to begin minor league rehab assignment Saturday

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Shane Victorino was placed on the disabled list at the end of spring training with a left hamstring strain and had his return briefly delayed due to a bout of the flu, but he’s finally getting closer to making his season debut.

Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports that Victorino will begin a minor league rehab assignment Saturday, likely with Triple-A Pawtucket. He’ll then get the day off Sunday before playing back-to-back games on Monday and Tuesday. Barring any setbacks, he could be activated for next Thursday’s game against the Yankees.

With Victorino on the verge of returning, things are fixing to get very interesting in Boston’s outfield. Jackie Bradley, Jr. was originally expected to be sent down, but he has been playing center field on a daily basis recently while Grady Sizemore has been getting exposure in left field. Mike Carp could be the odd man out here, but the Red Sox would have to expose him to waivers if he’s removed from the active roster, which means they’d almost certainly lose him. It’s a tough call.

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.