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Clayton Kershaw throws bullpen session, could face hitters soon

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Kershaw will need one minor league rehab game before activation

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Dodgers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw took another step closer to returning to the team before Tuesday’s game against the Giants, throwing two simulated innings in a bullpen session at Dodger Stadium.

He threw an estimated 41 pitches to catcher A.J. Ellis, going through mock game situations, with a rest period between simulated innings.

"That was the hard part for me before. Sitting down in between innings, it wasn't very comfortable to sit,” Kershaw said. “It was a positive step, sitting between innings and not even thinking about it.”

Kershaw last pitched for the Dodgers on July 26, and has been sidelined with a mild disc herniation in his back. He threw a four-inning simulated game on July 16 at Dodger Stadium, but was shut down after feeling discomfort. This time around, Kershaw for the moment is pain free.

"Today was a good day for us,” manager Dave Roberts said.

The next step will be a few days of rest for Kershaw before taking the next step, whether it is another glorified bullpen session or actually facing hitters. Kershaw has a clear preference.

"I think it's time to see some hitters, and make sure I can still get some guys out,” Kershaw said. "I'm optimistic [of a September return], but I need to face hitters to know. I need to know that with the added intensity that I'll come out of it okay.”

Kershaw will eventually need a rehab start before being activated from the disabled list. That’s a singular start.

"We talked about potentially two games, but that became one,” Roberts said, smiling. “He's obviously the aggressor, and that's what makes him great.”