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Clayton Kershaw confident in 2016 return, but still no timetable

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw spoke with reporters on Tuesday evening before the Dodgers' game against the Rays, but there is no real timetable for his return to the team from the disc herniation in his back that has him sidelined.

"We have the best trainers and doctors in the world, and we're all collaborating together with Andrew [Friedman], [Dave Roberts], myself, and Farhan [Zaidi]," Kershaw said. "We're talking about what makes sense as a timetable for my health and for the team's benefit. We're working on that right now.

"Now I'm just trying to make it back to have an impact this season for the team. I don't know what that means exactly."

Kershaw hasn't pitched since throwing a four-inning simulated game at Dodger Stadium on July 16, after which he felt discomfort in back.

"Pitching was the problem. I had crossed a lot of hurdles and done a lot of things to get back," Kershaw explained. "Pitching gave us the setback.

"I just knew there was something not quite right. I definitely felt it where I shouldn't feel it."

As for a specific timetable for return, Kershaw put it like this: "I didn't have any pain leading up to when I pitched, then I pitched and I felt pain, so now I just have to wait until I don't feel pain again."

Kershaw was asked if he felt pain in his back at times other than when throwing. "I haven't really done a whole lot since I suffered the setback," he said. "It's tough to say, but pitching pushed me over the edge."

Dave Roberts said more of the same.

"He'll just continue to be active with those exercises, but there's no timetable for his return," Roberts said.

Those exercises include a lot of core work and strengthening drills.

Kershaw downplayed the attention that came with Roberts mentioning that surgery was more possible than before, saying "I don't pay attention to the attention."

Asked if he had any fear that he wouldn't return in 2016, Kershaw instead referred to his daily routine.

"As of today, I did all my core work and knocked it out. Today I made it, so on to tomorrow."

So far, the Dodgers have managed to go 15-8 since Kershaw last pitched (on June 26), the best record in the National League during that span, even though the starting pitchers have a 4.53 ERA while averaging just 5.19 innings per start.

"It's been so fun to watch. It's not easy watching the games on TV, but these guys, it makes me want to be a part of it. The way these guys are playing. It's a great team, it really is," Kershaw said. "It's one of the closest teams that I've been a part of.

"It's hard to be away. I hate it. I'm really happy that they are doing so well. Hopefully I make it back and help in some way."sdds