LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw took the next step in his rehab on Friday at Dodger Stadium, throwing his second bullpen session of the week.
After throwing a 20-pitch fastballs-only bullpen on Tuesday, Kershaw progressed to throwing about 30 pitches on Friday, which is closer to his normal workload. He also threw sliders and curveballs for the first time since reinjuring his elbow on July 27 during a three-inning simulated game.
“It was good,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Kershaw’s bullpen session. “He’s still not, obviously, ripping it 100 percent. But it was a positive day for Clayton. We’ll probably see how he feels tomorrow and probably schedule another 'pen.”
The next bullpen session would likely be on Monday, though it’s unclear just how many pitches the left-hander will throw. It’s also unclear when Kershaw will graduate from bullpen sessions and face live hitters.
Kershaw isn’t eligible to return from the injured list until Sept. 5, but the chances of him returning on that date are slim. The Dodgers still need to build him up as a starter and they believe there’s still time to do so while also acknowledging that Kershaw’s rehab progress needs to be basically perfect in order for him to be fully stretched out before the postseason.
When asked if Kershaw could end up being a reliever or a two-inning opener, Roberts wouldn’t rule out the possibility and said they will have open communication. A big part of that decision will depend on Kershaw’s health. When Kershaw was asked about coming out of the bullpen, he said he’s not quite there yet and would still like to return as a starter.
“We’ll find out. We’ll find out,” Kershaw said on Tuesday, when asked if there’s enough time in the regular season for him to return as a starter. “I want to pitch. I want to help and I want to start.”
Mookie could slide to second base on Saturday
After repeatedly saying that Mookie Betts wouldn’t play the infield anymore upon returning from a right hip injury that has sidelined him twice, Roberts said on Friday that the 2018 MVP could be back at second base on Saturday against the Rockies.
Betts played right field in his return on Thursday and was back in the outfield on Friday. While it’s unclear why the Dodgers are now deciding to entertain the idea of having Betts play the infield, Roberts insists that Betts felt fine after playing nine innings on Thursday and the decision to put him at second base is just to limit his running.
The Dodgers and Betts have been consistent in saying that the second cortisone shot helped the star outfielder feel better than he has since the beginning of the season. But it still remains to be seen how Betts bounces back after playing in consecutive games.
Muncy’s back tightness
Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy was out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive game due to some back tightness, according to Roberts. Muncy’s back is “loosening up” and the Dodgers expected him to be available off the bench in Friday’s series opener against the Rockies. They’re optimistic that he’ll be back in the lineup Saturday.