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Kenley Jansen pitches simulated game, targets mid-May return to Dodgers

Jansen will pitch Friday on a rehab assignment for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen continued progressing in his rehabilitation from foot surgery, and remains on target for a mid-May return.

Jansen warmed up in the Dodgers bullpen then threw on the Dodger Stadium mound, facing hitters Joc Pederson and Yasmani Grandal before Tuesday night's game against the Giants.

"I felt great. I was making pitches out there. I threw pitches where I wanted to. The slider felt great, the fastball was good," Jansen said. "It's always different when you're facing hitters. You're a little more pumped, more aggressive compared to your bullpen session. Even today, I'm trying to work on stuff but also being aggressive."

Jansen threw 20 pitches in his simulated game, and said he averaged 92-93 mph on his fastball, topping out at 96. His next step will be a rehab assignment with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, beginning Friday night against the Inland Empire 66ers.

Jansen estimated he would need "six or seven" innings in rehab before he returns to the Dodgers, which he called his spring training, a term also used by his manager.

"We're just watching the process, not really worried about velocity. He looked like himself," Don Mattingly said. "Getting out there with guys in the box, with guys swinging, it's a little like spring training for him."

Though his foot isn't causing any problems now, the Dodgers will play it cautious for now with Jansen, who won't yet run to cover first base on grounders. Jansen said that is one of the last things he will do before being activated.

"I'm on schedule. There is no ahead of schedule. You don't want to play around with this injury," Jansen said. "You just sit and wait for the end of the 12 weeks, then you're ready."

Jansen had surgery on Feb. 17. Holding strictly to a 12-week timetable, that would mean a return to the Dodgers on or around May 12, which sounds like the current schedule, give or take maybe a few days.

"We've been talking about the middle of May," Mattingly said. "I haven't heard anything about 10 days early or 10 days late, so we're still shooting for the middle of May, and we feel pretty good about that."