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Clayton Kershaw dealing with soreness. ‘No hard date or deadline’ for his return

Dave Roberts: “There’s no hard date or deadline right now.”

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw might throw a planned simulated game on Sunday, or he might not, dealing with residual soreness in his left arm. How that affects his potential activation from the injured list remains to be seen, for a Dodgers rotation that seems to be perpetually in flux.

There’s a reason the Dodgers rarely give a specific timetable if they can help it for a player’s return from injury. Doing so sets a target that, if not reached, invites questions if it’s not met. So it was somewhat surprising earlier this week when manager Dave Roberts said, if all goes well, Kershaw could potentially be activated to start next weekend, August 7 against the Angels.

All hasn’t gone exactly well, though it’s still up in the air whether Kershaw’s soreness will keep him from his current schedule, which includes roughly four simulated innings on Sunday at Camelback Ranch.

“There’s no hard date for him to have to throw [Sunday]. We’re just kind of leaving it in the training staff’s hands,” Roberts said. “If you want to continue to move forward, we want the soreness to be not an issue.”

Kershaw pitched three simulated innings on Tuesday in San Francisco, and since then felt soreness in his left elbow/forearm area. Roberts said the soreness wasn’t considered a setback in the injury that has kept Kershaw sidelined for four weeks, but rather normal post-start soreness. But it still could delay his potential activation.

“We’ll know more after tomorrow. The main thing with Clayton is to get him back so he stays for the duration of the season into the postseason,” Roberts said. “There’s no hard date or deadline right now.”

Kershaw’s unknown status, coupled with Tony Gonsolin being placed on the injured list Saturday with right shoulder inflammation, only underscores how much the Dodgers rotation needed the stability of Max Scherzer down the stretch.

If there’s a saving grace, it’s the upcoming schedule, which includes off days on Monday and Thursday, plus another day off on Monday, August 9.

Julio Urías starts Sunday’s finale in Arizona, with Walker Buehler and Scherzer set to pitch at home against the Astros on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Roberts said David Price, who threw 64 pitches in 4⅓ innings on Thursday in San Francisco, will be available out of the bullpen on Sunday.

If Kershaw’s unavailable to pitch next weekend against the Angels — a very likely possibility — the Dodgers can cover all three games with the Price, Urías, and Buehler if they so choose, and the following Monday’s day off leaves them covered for the next series in Philadelphia, too.

It’s been a season of kicking the can down the road on when the Dodgers might be back at full strength. The next few weeks will likely involve more waiting, and if you decide to plan ahead on who might pitch when, be sure to write it down in pencil rather than pen.