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Kershaw could return next week; Hill 'antsy'

MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw will throw a simulated game on Saturday as planned, and he will have company, as another Dodgers starting pitcher itching to return, Rich Hill, will join him on the mound.

Kershaw, who hasn't pitched since May 1 because of biceps tendinitis, will pitch four innings, according to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts with the chance of showing he's ready for Major League action five days later instead of a Minor League rehab assignment.

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LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw will throw a simulated game on Saturday as planned, and he will have company, as another Dodgers starting pitcher itching to return, Rich Hill, will join him on the mound.

Kershaw, who hasn't pitched since May 1 because of biceps tendinitis, will pitch four innings, according to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts with the chance of showing he's ready for Major League action five days later instead of a Minor League rehab assignment.

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In a 54-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday, Kershaw was inconsistent with pitch execution. His fastball velocity has been down all season, but Roberts did not reveal any radar readings. He said beyond Kershaw's health, factors like velocity and command will be assessed.

"When you're talking about potentially activating a player, you want that to trend in the right way," Roberts said. "He's going to use his pitch mix and see the execution and how the ball is coming out. Velocity is a part of it, for sure."

Kershaw's velocity drop this year proved a harbinger of the injury, although the club hasn't said whether it believes the drop in velocity was caused by the oncoming injury, or if the injury was caused by Kershaw trying to throw harder.

Kershaw has said he and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt have been working on mechanical adjustments with the goal of preventing further injury, if not increasing the velocity.

As for Hill, the saga continues. He's been limited to 24 2/3 innings with ongoing blisters on his throwing hand that have dogged him since 2016. On May 19, he made a two-pitch start before a blister ruptured. He resumed throwing almost immediately with the area covered by medical tape, which is illegal to use during a game. Hill insists the continued throwing promotes formation of a callous allowing him to pitch.

"Rich is very antsy right now," Roberts said.

Video: LAD@WSH: Hill leaves after 2 pitches with blister

Roberts added that Hill and the club "reached out" -- presumably to MLB, if not the players association -- after Hill suggested the rule should be waived for injuries that he believes are caused by a variance in the height of the stitches on the baseball. Hill said it's a health issue, not one to assist pitchers in performing better.

A change in that rule would likely require the buy-in of the clubs and the union, including hitters that have nothing to gain by helping pitchers, even though, as Hill points out, hitters are allowed to wear suits of armor, tape, gloves and just about anything to protect their health and aid their performance.

Hill will have the blister taped for the simulated game. Roberts would not speculate on when Hill could return for a game without the finger taped, but the southpaw said the blister is almost completely healed.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Rich Hill, Clayton Kershaw