CHICAGO -- After Clayton Kershaw threw an impressive three-inning simulated game at Wrigley Field on Monday, all concerned agreed that the Dodgers' ace is ready. The question is, for what?Manager Dave Roberts said the choices are a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Oklahoma City or a Major League game this weekend
CHICAGO -- After Clayton Kershaw threw an impressive three-inning simulated game at Wrigley Field on Monday, all concerned agreed that the Dodgers' ace is ready. The question is, for what?
Manager Dave Roberts said the choices are a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Oklahoma City or a Major League game this weekend against the Mets.
Kershaw has pitched in one MLB game since May 1. He went on the disabled list after that game with left biceps tendinitis. He came back for one start May 31, then went back on the DL with a lower back strain.
Under ordinary circumstances, management would probably pressure Kershaw to make one Minor League rehab start, just to be sure he doesn't relapse and require an early exit, placing a burden on the bullpen.
"You can absolutely make that case and that was our thought," said Roberts. "When you talk to the player, look at how much he's pitched the last two months, it hasn't been a whole lot. To see it in real competition makes a lot of sense."
But with Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler currently on the DL (Rich Hill comes off Tuesday), plus Brock Stewart and Caleb Ferguson having struggled in their starting opportunities, using Kershaw at Citi Field might be a risk worth taking.
"Obviously, Clayton is going to be more on the aggressive side, which we all appreciate, but we have to talk to the training staff and front office and make the decision that makes the most sense for him and for us," said Roberts, who watched Kershaw face Cody Bellinger, Chase Utley and Breyvic Valera in 93-degree weather.
Kershaw said, "Today felt really good," and he had no concern about how his back would feel Tuesday. He said he was happier with his pitches in the sim game than in the bullpen over the weekend. Roberts agreed.
"It was good. Very encouraged," he said. "Just the way the ball was coming out today, the command of the fastball, as good as it's been in a month, for sure."
• Roberts confirmed that reliever Tony Cingrani, who is on the disabled list with a strained left rotator cuff, has backed off his workload after "he felt a little something" throwing last week. Roberts said there is no timetable for his return.
• There is a timetable for the return of Utley, who will be activated Tuesday or Wednesday, Roberts said.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.