Clayton Kershaw was back on a baseball field, playing catch a mere four days after the Los Angeles Dodgers placed him on the 10-day disabled list with a lower back strain. He did so again Saturday morning. Manager Dave Roberts previously said Kershaw would not pick up a baseball until he was “asymptomatic.”
“I guess he’s asymptomatic,” Roberts said Friday. “He came in and felt really good, so he obviously responded to the medication. For him to get the go-ahead to start playing catch again, I think that’s ahead of where we all anticipated. I’m going to be cautiously optimistic.”
The Dodgers, nor Kershaw have publicly revealed a timetable for his recovery. They operated in the same fashion last season, when the three-time Cy Young Award winner missed 10 weeks due to a mild herniated disc.
The prolonged absence was in some part due to Kershaw’s hastened attempt to return. So pardon the Dodgers if there’s some pause in seeing him beginning with baseball activities.
“He is an elite baseball player,” Roberts said. “Players intrinsically have that in them where they feel they can kind of overcome adversity and they’re in a better spot physically or mentally than they might be. With Clayton’s eagerness to get back, I think we take it with a mild grain of salt.”
While you may be hard-pressed to find any professional athlete accepting of missing time due to injury, Kershaw in particular isn’t a fan of standing on the sidelines while teammates forge ahead. He took no solace in the Dodgers’ record and comfortable lead in the National League West.
But, Roberts believed the 29-year-old has grown from last year’s experience. “He learned a ton,” Roberts said. “I think that is reflective in his offseason workouts, his workouts during Spring Training and this season.
“Clayton competes harder than anyone I’ve ever been around, and that’s made him the player that he is. I think there is an understanding of we have his best interest at heart. We have to be mindful of him and his honesty, but the doctors and medical staff really have to be cautious and responsible.”
A report that the Dodgers have not confirmed and one Kershaw dismissed as inaccurate, projected he would miss four to six weeks. All Kershaw was willing to commit to was a hope to make a handful of starts prior to the playoffs beginning.
For now, his progress will be monitored on a daily basis, with any semblance of a throwing program allowing for Kershaw to keep his arm strength. Roberts called thoughts of a potential rehab assignment “down the road for me.”