LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw could return to the starting rotation as early as next Thursday night in Washington, based on a loose timetable manager Dave Roberts provided on Thursday.After Kershaw played catch at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, Roberts said Kershaw will probably throw a simulated game in
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw could return to the starting rotation as early as next Thursday night in Washington, based on a loose timetable manager Dave Roberts provided on Thursday.
After Kershaw played catch at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, Roberts said Kershaw will probably throw a simulated game in Los Angeles on Saturday and that a Minor League rehab start is "unlikely."
"We're really encouraged," said Roberts. "For Clayton, not a whole lot's left. He said he's feeling well."
Roberts tempered any estimate of Kershaw's return on how he feels physically coming off a slight disk herniation in his lower back that has had him on the disabled list since June 27, the day after a losing start in Pittsburgh.
Kershaw threw a 60-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday in Los Angeles after attending All-Star Game festivities in San Diego. He was selected for the National League team for a sixth consecutive year, and manager Terry Collins, the former Dodgers farm director, said he would have started Kershaw if he had been able to pitch.
Roberts had previously announced the rotation's first cycle through would be Bud Norris, Brandon McCarthy and Kenta Maeda in Arizona, and Scott Kazmir and Hyun-Jin Ryu in the first two games in Washington.
On Thursday, Roberts also said center fielder Joc Pederson, who suffered a slight right shoulder separation in Milwaukee on June 28, was to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City and rejoin the Dodgers on Tuesday in Washington.
Kershaw and Pederson aren't the only injured Dodgers nearing returns. Roberts met with reporters shortly after watching a 60-pitch Brett Anderson bullpen session he termed "electric," adding that Anderson also will pitch a simulated game next, then begin a Minor League rehab assignment to rebuild arm strength. Anderson had surgery for a herniated disk in his lower back in March.
"He's really come on of late," Roberts said of Anderson. "He's in the mix."
Alex Wood (strained triceps) has been facing hitters in Arizona and will also soon begin a rehab assignment, and reliever Yimi García (strained biceps) has faced hitters and will also go out for a rehab assignment soon.
"We're on the mend," Roberts said.
Roberts added that Andre Ethier was scheduled for a scan of his healing broken right leg, and if it comes back clean, Ethier will be allowed to be "more aggressive" in his rehab, primarily increasing the weight he puts on the leg leading to full-speed running, which will be his final hurdle.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.