LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw will start Friday night for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, the beginning of a minor league rehab assignment for the Dodgers left-hander. Manager Don Mattingly made the announcement before Wednesday night's game against the Phillies at Dodger Stadium.
Kershaw threw 51 pitches in a simulated game at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, and threw a bullpen session on Tuesday. He felt fine after both days.
Mattingly wouldn't commit to a specific timetable for Kershaw's return to the Dodgers, but did say Friday won't be his only rehab start.
"We'll just go one and a time and see. More than one [rehab start], for sure," Mattingly said. "I think we're at the 55[-pitch] range. We're not jumping way up from the pitches he threw the other day."
A.J. Ellis, who had surgery 15 days ago to repair a torn meniscus, lobbied to catch Kershaw's rehab start on Friday, but Mattingly said Ellis hasn't yet been cleared by the training and medical staff. Ellis has been taking batting practice and did catch Kershaw's simulated game Sunday and bullpen session Tuesday.
Adrian Gonzalez, who has played every inning of the first 21 games of the season, sits out against Cole Hamels tonight. Mattingly said he would try to similarly get Hanley Ramirez a day off before Monday's off day, the club's only off day in a 30-day span.
"I want to take advantage of the off day with him and Hanley," Mattingly said. "Give them a day now, then another day [Monday]."
The earliest Paco Rodriguez could return to the Dodgers is Friday, after his optional assignment to the minors lasted 10 days, unless he is replacing an injured player. But whether Rodriguez is back Friday to replace Jose Dominguez might depend on how deep Zack Greinke and Dan Haren pitch in the final two games of the series.
"The reason we brought Jose up was we needed length and it gave us that bounce-back arm. With Paco he need more to get a couple of lefties out, but he's not a guy who will throw 30 pitches one night and probably give you another inning the next night if he had to," Mattingly said. "Right now we're in a situation where we want to keep protecting our back-end guys with length."
Asked if someone other than Chone Figgins would get the call once the Dodgers go back to 12 pitchers and a five-man bench and if Figgins is able to return (after 10 days), Mattingly, who never likes to speculate, did say, "We like Figgy. We like what he brings to the table in a lot of different areas of our team."