By Jon Weisman
It was an absolutely lovely day at Dodger Stadium today. Mild warmth. A refreshing breeze.
As the shadows made their way across the field at the 5 o’clock hour, Clayton Kershaw and Brett Anderson emerged from the clubhouse and played catch. And it wasn’t tentative. It was glove-poppin’, “we mean business” catch.
While more Dodgers trickled onto the field for an informal workout tonight, the last night before returning to action with a 10-game road trip that begins Friday at Arizona, Dave Roberts spoke to reporters about the state of several injured players — Kershaw, Anderson, Joc Pederson, Alex Wood, Andre Ethier, Yimi Garcia. And everything was just about as glowing as that magic late-afternoon sunlight.
Kershaw had a 60-pitch bullpen session Wednesday, and is expected to face hitters in a simulated session Sunday. His recovery from a mild disk herniation has continued to progress so rapidly that the odds remain strong he will avoid a rehab assignment and go right back into the Dodger starting rotation, perhaps as soon as late next week.
“I think we all knew that Clayton kind of pushes the envelope,” Roberts said. “We haven’t figured out when that will be … but we’re just really encouraged right now by the direction that it’s going.”
“We expected him to make our decision a lot tougher. His health and the way his body responded is pretty exciting for all of us.”
Anderson, who has been sidelined since back surgery in early March, also threw 60 pitches today in a bullpen session today that Roberts called “electric.”
“The velocity, the crispness of the fastball, breaking ball, change, the depth of his sinker, arm speed, mechanics — everything was good,” Roberts said of Anderson. “He’s really come on of late. So he’s in the mix. … He’s going to be facing hitters shortly, and his next progression is going out on an assignment.”
Wood and Garcia have already begun throwing simulated innings against hitters. Roberts said that a rehab assignment was in the offing “sooner than later” for Wood, and Garcia is in the same neighborhood.
“I recall (Garcia’s) velocity getting up to 93ish — maybe it touched 94,” Roberts said. “Obviously, once we get him out it will be a shorter stint because he doesn’t have to be built up (like a starter). So Yimi’s coming along, and he’ll be ready at some point here soon. We’ve got guys on the mend.”
As for the hitters: Pederson, who injured his shoulder two weeks and two days ago at Milwaukee, is on his way to do a rehab assignment with Oklahoma City. Roberts said the hope is that he would be activated from the disabled list as soon as Tuesday, contingent on how the rehab assignment goes.
Ethier was scheduled to have a bone scan today that would update his four-month recovery from a fractured right tibia and determine how aggressively he can move toward a return.
“Today’s a day that I know Dre has been anticipating, and we’ll see once we get the results,” Roberts said. “But outside of that, he’s progressing — taking balls off the tee in batting practice, throwing, running, getting the OK to bear the whole weight.”