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Corey Knebel nearing minor league rehab assignment

Knebel & Nelson threw simulated game at Dodger Stadium Thursday

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Oakland Athletics Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Corey Knebel threw 22 pitches to live hitters in a simulated game on Thursday at Dodger Stadium, his second time off a mound this week. Up next for the right-hander, who has been out since late April with a right lat strain, is a minor league rehab assignment.

Knebel said curveball command is his usual gauge of whether his stuff is working, since that is his toughest pitch to control. It’s a key pitch for Knebel, thrown 47 percent of the time this year and 30 percent for his career. Opponents are 2-for-15 in at-bats that end with the curve in 2021, with seven strikeouts.

“The curveball today, there were some bad ones at the beginning,” Knebel said Thursday. “Of the last six or seven pitches, four of those were curveballs, and they were great. I’m close.”

Close is a relative term for Knebel, who last pitched in a game on April 23. A right lat strain was deemed significant enough at the time that Knebel was expected to miss two to three months, including waiting at least two months before even throwing off a mound. Knebel likened his rehab to having another spring training, and said he got advice from David Price and assistant general manager Brandon Gomes, both of whom pitchers who recovered from the injury.

Knebel’s rehab assignment will likely last at least five or six games, including pitching in back-to-back outings before he’s cleared to rejoin the Dodgers. It could start as early as this weekend, or perhaps early next week.

Manager Dave Roberts said the location of said rehab assignment would be “more Corey-driven,” though the usual choices are between a higher-level of competition in Triple-A Oklahoma City or the local team in Low-A Rancho Cucamonga.

With Rancho Cucamonga currently on a road trip in Visalia, then in Modesto through August 3, it seems Triple-A is a more likely choice for Knebel, at least to start his rehab assignment.

Links & notes

  • Jimmy Nelson also pitched in the simulated game on Thursday at Dodger Stadium. He’s been out since July 6 with a lumbar strain, and will be reevaluated in a couple days. Roberts said Nelson could be activated as early as Sunday vs. the Rockies, or Tuesday in San Francisco.
  • Jim Alexander at the Orange County Register wrote about the Wednesday night Dodger Stadium boos for Kenley Jansen, and noted this about the closer: “Jansen doesn’t hide. He displays rare accountability in an era when locker rooms are closed and it’s easier than ever for an athlete to avoid questions about why he failed. He deserves credit for that, at least.”
  • The Dodgers on Thursday officially announced the signing of first-round draft pick Maddux Bruns, as well as ninth-rounder Lael Lockhart and 10th-rounder Michael Hobbs. All three pitchers signings were previously reported. Here’s our draft tracker.
  • Tess Taruskin at FanGraphs previewed the baseball entrants in the Olympics.