The return of Clayton Kershaw to the Dodgers will take one necessary step forward this weekend, with the ace left-hander making a minor league rehab start with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, team president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on Thursday night.
Friedman made the announcement to a crowd at Dodger Stadium on the club’s off day, during a “Dodgers All-Access” event through the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and the LA Sports & Entertainment Commission. This matched what Friedman told reporters in Colorado on Tuesday.
Kershaw last pitched on Tuesday, facing hitters for the first time in his current comeback incarnation, after a series of bullpen sessions. A start on Saturday or Sunday could put Kershaw in line for a return to the majors next weekend when the Dodgers face the Marlins in Miami.
UPDATE: manager Dave Roberts clarified on Friday:
Kershaw now scheduled to pitch Saturday with Rancho, three innings, followed by Brett Anderson, according to Roberts.— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) September 2, 2016
Clayton Kershaw will throw around 50 pitches for Rancho tomorrow— Jack Baer (@JFordBaer) September 2, 2016
Rancho Cucamonga concludes their regular season with a four-game series at home against Modesto from Friday to Monday.
Kershaw’s only other minor league time since 2008 came in 2014, the only other time Kershaw was on the disabled list, when he made a pair of five-inning rehab starts, one for Rancho Cucamonga and another for Double-A Chattanooga.
Sunday will mark 10 weeks since Kershaw last pitched, out with a mild disc herniation in his back.
The Dodgers have performed admirably since Kershaw last pitched, on June 26, going 33-23 (.589) and gaining 10 games in the National League West, from eight games behind the Giants to now two games ahead of San Francisco in the division.
Dodgers starting pitchers in the 56 games since Kershaw last pitched have a 4.89 ERA and have averaged 4.87 innings per start.