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Report: Braves sign Kris Medlen to minor league deal

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Veteran right-hander Kris Medlen is reportedly returning to the majors on a minor league deal with the Braves, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien writes. Medlen’s option was declined by the Royals last November.

Medlen, 31, labored through 24 1/3 innings and a 7.77 ERA in six starts for the Royals last spring. The remainder of his season was lost to a bout of rotator cuff inflammation in his right shoulder, the latest in a long history of injuries that includes two Tommy John surgeries. He last pitched a full season with the Braves in 2013, touting a 3.11 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 over 197 innings.

Per O’Brien’s report, the deal does not include an invitation to spring training. Earning a major league job doesn’t appear to be out of the question, but Medlen is expected to spend additional time rehabbing his shoulder and refining his mechanics before making any big strides on the mound. While there’s no timetable for his return to the majors, it’s a huge step forward for the righty, who was supposedly contemplating retirement after cutting ties with the Royals during the offseason. Via O’Brien:

I’m giving it a go and Coppy (Braves general manager John Coppolella) and Co. are being patient and 100 percent supportive,” Medlen said. “Couldn’t be happier about the situation compared to where I was mentally about four months ago.

The contract has yet to be confirmed by the team.

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.