Clayton Kershaw moved one step closer to returning to the Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation by getting through four innings of a simulated game on Thursday.
It was Kershaw’s second time facing batters since being put on the 15-day injured list July 3 because of left shoulder soreness.
“It went really well. He got through four innings and used his entire pitch mix, so I’m pretty hopeful we’ll get him back with us,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
“I think the next step is a bullpen, kind of what he would normally do after a start, and at some point in time next week I see him pitching for the Dodgers. I’m excited.
“I thought it was considerably better than it was the last sim game. I thought the fastball was commanded better and had more life. I thought the slider was better. And the curveball, which wasn’t as sharp a week ago, was much better today.”
When Kershaw first landed on the IL, the expectation was he would return immediately after the All-Star break. However, that was pushed into early August after Dr. Neal ElAttrache reviewed an MRI and suggested Kershaw give his ailing throwing shoulder more rest.
Kershaw has maintained he’s been without any pain for several weeks, which Roberts echoed but also cautioned that hasn’t necessarily correlated to full health.
“I think we’re at the stage where it’s not perfect, and Clayton certainly could speak more to it. But it’s to a place where we feel he can pitch in a Major League game,” Roberts explained.
“I think there has to be some buildup, but he’s going to find a way. I understand he doesn’t have pain, which is important, but he’s not perfect. But he’s still Clayton and he still wants to get out there to help this team win baseball games.”
When will Clayton Kershaw return?
The earliest date Kershaw figures to return is Tuesday, August 8, for the series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, the Dodgers have not decided if Kershaw will be activated during their road trip or on the homestand.
“We’re going to leave that open,” Roberts said. “I think the next thing is he’s got to go out there and throw a bullpen. Expect that to go well, and then we’ll figure out when to pencil him in.”
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