Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw ‘right where I think I should be’ in recovery from surgery

LOS ANGELES — Early in his recovery from last November’s shoulder surgery, Clayton Kershaw offered an estimate of “July-ish, August-ish” for when he might return to the mound for the Dodgers.

“Ish” might be getting closer.

Kershaw threw three simulated innings to hitters including Miguel Rojas and Chris Taylor on Thursday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. It was the final step before Kershaw is expected to go on a minor-league injury rehabilitation assignment and pitch in games for the first time since last year’s National League Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“Dr. (Neal) ElAttrache did the surgery, gave me a timeline. And I’m like, great,” Kershaw said. “Every check mark has been (on schedule) up to this point.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner danced around the question of whether he might be ahead of that timeline.

“I’m right where I think I should be,” he said. “I mean, I think we’ve always had a good plan. And not a lot, honestly, has changed since the very beginning. So I really think between our training staff and Dr. ElAttrache everything’s really been pretty smooth sailing so far. No setbacks so far.

“I’ve never had surgery. I don’t really know how it goes. People say there’s ups and downs. I really haven’t had the downs, you know. So it’s been great.”

After watching Thursday’s workout, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Kershaw appeared “much further” along in the recovery process than he expected.

“He’s unique in his body and mentality and mindset, the work ethic and all that. And obviously Dr. ElAttrache did a great job,” Roberts said. “He’s well beyond where I personally expected him.”

Dodgers pitching coach Mark Prior was Kershaw’s velocity was “88-89 (mph)” during the simulated session – “pretty much where he’s at, normal for all of his live BPs” during spring training. Kershaw even mixed in some two-seam fastballs and changeups – pitches that have been a very limited part of his arsenal in the past.

Prior agreed that Kershaw seems to be progressing even better than could have been expected, making everyone “cautiously optimistic” about his return.

“Yeah. I mean, I think you hear, okay, he’ll be back next year and you don’t really know,” Prior said. “I think we’ve been through enough surgical repairs. (But) shoulders are completely different animals than Tommy Johns.

“I do think he’s progressed really well. And knock on wood, it’s been kind of a nice, steady trend line up to get to this point. Hopefully that continues. And I think if that continues, yeah, I think we’re all gonna be pleasantly surprised it was a little sooner than later.”

Kershaw’s first rehab start will “most likely” be for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, Roberts said. Never a fan of rehab outings, Kershaw can’t get excited about this one even if it will be his first taste of competition in seven months.

“I’m definitely not excited. I don’t think anybody gets excited about rehab starts,” Kershaw said. “But it’s a necessary evil. It’s something you gotta do. This is good (the live BP). You get your work in. But you have to get in a game setting, get in the atmosphere, there may be a long inning, maybe – just stuff that you can’t really simulate here. So it’s just kind of the next step in the process.”

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MILLER UPDATE

Right-hander Bobby Miller made another rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday night. The line score was not pretty – he gave up five runs on six hits, three walks, a hit batter and a walk in 4⅔ innings. Three runs scored after there were two outs in the fourth and two more scored in the fifth.

Miller threw 93 pitches. This was expected to be his final rehab start before rejoining the Dodgers’ rotation next week. Miller has been out since April 10 with shoulder soreness.

ALSO

Outfielder Teoscar Hernandez had X-rays of his right foot after Wednesday’s game. Hernandez fouled a ball off that foot during his last at-bat. The X-rays were negative and Hernandez was in the starting lineup Thursday. He and first baseman Freddie Freeman are the only Dodgers to start each of the team’s first 70 games.

UP NEXT

Royals (LHP Cole Ragans, 4-4, 3.08 ERA) at Dodgers (RHP Gavin Stone, 7-2, 2.93 ERA), Friday, 7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA, 570 AM

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