By Jon Weisman
Chronically the last team to count their chickens before they hatch, the Dodgers nevertheless feel upbeat about the latest progress from Clayton Kershaw, Brett Anderson and Andre Ethier in their injury rehab.
Kershaw and Anderson, each recovering from different back ailments — Anderson’s required surgery in March, Kershaw’s an epidural last week — played catch in left field this morning, “which is exciting and encouraging for all of us,” Dave Roberts said.
No return timetable has been outlined for Kershaw, but Roberts said that the clearance to play catch came ahead of schedule.
“He says his back feels considerably better, so hopefully we continue to move in that same direction,” Roberts said. “Actually, this is a little early. We’re pleasantly surprised. This is good. Dr. Robert Watkins and the training staff have obviously given him their blessing, so that’s a good thing.
Roberts did caution that “we’ve got to keep a close eye on (Kershaw), because he’s gonna want to push it as much as he possibly can.”
With Anderson, Roberts said that a mid-August return is “pretty realistic.”
“Brett has been throwing pens, and feels good coming out of the pens and stretching it out,” Roberts said. “The last couple of weeks with Brett, he’s really shown some vast improvement.”
Ethier, who is recovering from a fractured right tibia, has taken longer to return than initially expected, but recently the pace has picked up rapidly. Roberts was more than hopeful that Ethier could be in uniform for the Dodgers’ first game in August.
“His body is responding,” Roberts said. “He’s doing some light jogging. … As far as being a baseball player and throwing and taking swings, he’s doing all that stuff. The next progression is doing batting practice on the field, but the leg feels considerably better.”
Roberts noted that Ethier would require a minor-league rehab assignment of approximately 10 days and/or 20 to 25 at-bats.
“Obviously, things can go a different way, but the beginning of August is realistic,” Roberts said.