Dodgers Rumors: Clayton Kershaw ‘Pretty Banged Up’
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers have not only managed to survive 11 weeks without Clayton Kershaw, they’ve excelled despite losing their ace. Los Angeles was eight games back of the San Francisco Giants for first place in the National League West when Kershaw last pitched.

The Dodgers will have a five-game lead in the division when he returns to the mound in Friday’s series opener against the Miami Marlins. The outing comes five days after Kershaw started for High-A Rancho Cucamonga in his first, and only, rehab assignment since landing on the disabled list in June.

That start came once Kershaw steadily navigated the recovery trail after a setback in mid-July when back pain surfaced following a simulated game. He was forced to halt all baseball activities until the discomfort subsided.

Although Kershaw is on the verge of being reinstated from the 60-day disabled list, he reportedly is still dealing with health issues, per Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball:

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who makes his return start Friday, is “pretty banged up’’ according to a Dodgers connected person. However, that person still expects Kershaw to “tough it out.”

More specifically, Kershaw is said to be dealing with lingering back pain:

The issue, according to someone in the know, has been pain lingering into the next day, or sometimes two days, after his starts.

Kershaw on multiple occasions voiced his frustration with being unable to contribute over the prolonged stretch. It marked just the second time in his career an injury forced him to the disabled list.

After starting the season opener in Australia, Kershaw failed to make his next turn in the rotation and missed all of April in 2014 while he was on the DL due to a teres major strain (upper back).

By returning Friday, Kershaw will be on track to face the New York Yankees (Sept. 14), San Francisco Giants (Sept. 19), Colorado Rockies (Sept. 24) and either the San Diego Padres (Sept. 29) or the Giants a second time (Sept. 30).