PITTSBURGH -- Yu Darvish and Clayton Kershaw threw bullpen sessions on Wednesday with no signs of the lower back injuries that put them on the disabled list. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Darvish -- aka "Yu-San" during Players Weekend -- will be activated to start in Los Angeles on Sunday
PITTSBURGH -- Yu Darvish and Clayton Kershaw threw bullpen sessions on Wednesday with no signs of the lower back injuries that put them on the disabled list. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Darvish -- aka "Yu-San" during Players Weekend -- will be activated to start in Los Angeles on Sunday and Kershaw -- aka "Kersh" -- will make a rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday.
Roberts said a discussion was held with Kershaw -- who has been sidelined since July 24 with a lower back strain -- about starting him instead in the Dodgers' Saturday game against Milwaukee, "and I think caution won out," Roberts said.
The decision was made that the jump in intensity from a Monday simulated game (against teammates Enrique Hernandez and Chase Utley, plus hitting coach Turner Ward) to Major League competition was too great for Kershaw, and the Dodgers' huge division lead made rushing back unnecessary.
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"He used his whole mix and came out of it feeling good about things, obviously wanting to pitch for us on Saturday," said Roberts. "But we're going to stick with the plan and have him pitch for Oklahoma City. I think for us it's more of trying to pass every marker in a sense of simulated games and 'pen, but to go into a Major League game and really have to ramp up and compete with the adrenaline considerably more in a Major League park, I think this is a nice progression. For us, taking the long view and with Clayton's health being No. 1, it's the best thing for all of us."
The club still needs a live body to make the Saturday start that would have gone to Alex Wood until he went on the disabled list with a sternum injury. A spot start for Thomas Stripling is a possibility, Roberts said, as is calling up a Minor Leaguer not currently on the 40-man roster. Leading that list are Wilmer Font and Justin Masterson. Roberts said bullpen usage in the coming days could be the determining factor.
Meanwhile, Darvish will return after being sidelined the minimum 10 days with what was listed as lower back tightness, but also served as a breather and mechanical tune-up.
"In Yu's case, [pitching coach Rick Honeycutt] has been working on some mechanics and he looks healthy, feels strong and the execution in the 'pen was really good," Roberts said. "Whatever it was, the effectiveness with his pitch mix, that's been cleaned up. He's excited to make that next start on Sunday."
Dodgers roster moves continued on Wednesday as utility man James Farmer was recalled from Oklahoma City and pitcher Brock Stewart was optioned back to OKC.
Stewart was up for one day, having made a spot start Tuesday night against the Pirates and lasting only two-plus innings in a no-decision.
Farmer was optioned 10 days ago after a brief stint with the Dodgers that included a walk-off pinch-hit double in his first Major League at-bat on July 28 against the Giants.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.