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Buehler set for rehab start; Machado to LA?

MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers rookie right-hander Walker Buehler's return from a rib microfracture has been accelerated, as he will make a rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday.

Buehler threw a bullpen session on Monday pain-free, and management was impressed enough to eliminate another one for Thursday and instead have him pitch three innings for OKC.

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LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers rookie right-hander Walker Buehler's return from a rib microfracture has been accelerated, as he will make a rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday.

Buehler threw a bullpen session on Monday pain-free, and management was impressed enough to eliminate another one for Thursday and instead have him pitch three innings for OKC.

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"He felt that good," manager Dave Roberts said. "Walker agreed with it."

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said if it goes smoothly, Buehler would throw an additional inning in the bullpen after he is out of the game. He then would likely return to the Dodgers' rotation, although Roberts would only go so far as to call it a possibility.

Buehler made three starts unknowingly with a rib microfracture suffered May 21, when he was drilled by a 108-mph Trevor Story line drive. The extent of the injury wasn't determined until Buehler came out of a June 8 start with pain and having trouble breathing. A scan revealed the microfracture, and he went on the 10-day disabled list.

Roberts said on Tuesday the club is considering using six starters for a brief period when Buehler returns to give the other five an extra day of rest. The Dodgers are in a stretch of 23 games in 24 days leading into the All-Star break.

Dodgers leading candidate to land Machado?
The Trade Deadline is still more than a month away, but the Manny Machado rumors returned on Wednesday, with a report by USA Today's Bob Nightengale saying the Dodgers have emerged as the clear favorite to acquire the Orioles' star shortstop.

"I just think it's noise," said Roberts. "Until something is concrete or finalized, I just don't put too much effort or thought into it. We talk about things, we're always talking about the club and how we upgrade and better the club. There's always talk this time of year, and it intensifies, but personally I don't waste too much energy on it."

Roberts said when his office television is on, he's watching games, not listening to talk-show trade rumors.

"As opposed to sitting and watching people talking about what might or might not happen, I'd rather watch a real baseball game," he said.

Some pundits believe the Dodgers -- with shortstop Corey Seager out for the season -- are a perfect fit to rent Machado, who will be a free agent at season's end, no matter the cost in prospects. Chris Taylor has moved from center field to shortstop since the loss of Seager. The Dodgers are limited in adding salary, as they are committed to staying under the competitive-balance tax. The widespread belief is that the Trade Deadline priorities will be to upgrade the bullpen and second base.

Taylor may return to lineup Thursday
Roberts said he hopes to start Taylor at shortstop on Thursday. Taylor hasn't started since last Wednesday in Chicago because of a tight left hamstring. However, he has been wildly successful as a pinch-hitter, going 3-for-4 with a home run, double and three RBIs during this stretch.

"Hamstrings are tough," said Roberts. "A week can turn into a month pretty quickly. One quick movement and all that time built up you can lose."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Walker Buehler, Manny Machado, Chris Taylor