"With this back strain, it really varies from individual to individual," Roberts said. "With Clayton, we're going to let these first three, four, five days kind of settle, not do a whole lot. He won't pick up a baseball until he's asymptotic, and when that is, I don't know."
Stewart, ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Dodgers' No. 10 prospect, will make his first start this season on Wednesday against the Twins, and lefty Alex Wood will have his start pushed back to Friday. Roberts said the Dodgers considered putting righty Ross Stripling in the rotation, but ultimately felt Stewart's low usage made him a better candidate.
Stewart has not given up a run in the 13 innings he's pitched over six appearances in 2017, throwing no more than 40 pitches in any outing. The 25-year-old went 2-2 with a 5.79 ERA in four starts last season, not throwing more than five innings per outing. Roberts plans to keep Stewart on a 50-60 pitch limit and expects him to remain in the rotation for at least one more start after facing the Twins in the series finale.
"I think the fastball characteristics are the same, velocity and things like that," Roberts said about Stewart's progression. "I think the changeup is better, I think the slider is a tick better. Obviously that start here against the Cubs [last year], that slider was really, really good. It had depth. We really hadn't seen that since."
Gonzalez approaching rehab stint
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez ran and took grounders on Tuesday and will likely go on a rehab assignment next week when the teams heads out for a nine-game road trip, Roberts said.
"I think with Adrian knowing our club and how we're playing and who we have playing," Roberts said. "I think that he feels that it's the most important thing for him is to be healthy and swinging the bat when he gets back to best contribute."