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Daniel Hudson to shift rehab to Triple-A Oklahoma City, getting closer to Dodgers return

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — Daniel Hudson pitched a fourth game for the Dodgers Arizona Complex League team on Thursday, each successive appearance thus far with less rest than the previous game. Up next for him is moving his minor league rehab assignment to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

“I think he’s done using bullets in Arizona, and he wants to ramp up the competition,” manager Dave Roberts said Thursday. “If that goes well, then to expect him within this month at some point is hopeful.”

Hudson is recovering from ACL surgery in his left knee last June, and also was slowed during spring with right ankle tendinitis that he suffered while rehabbing. Last September, he signed a one-year, $6.5-million extension that included a club option for 2024.

Roberts said Hudson’s knee is responding better after each outing, with some residual soreness but not that’s affected his performance.

In his four games in Arizona, Hudson pitched four scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a walk with six strikeouts. That included a scoreless inning on Thursday at Camelback Ranch against the D-backs’ Arizona Complex League team. Hudson allowed a single and struck out one.

Hudson started his rehab assignment on June 6, and his next outing came on three days rest, then two days rest, then one rest day before Thursday. Minor league rehab assignments for pitchers can last up to 30 days, so Hudson could conceivably take until July 6 to be activated off the injured list. But it sounds like he’ll be back sooner than that.

Roberts said they aren’t necessarily looking for Hudson to pitch in back-to-back games in the minors before returning, though that is usually part of the plan during spring training while getting ready for the season.

“With a guy like Huddy, I don’t think we need to do things just to check boxes,” Roberts said. “With his experience, just knowing he’s healthy, we can sort of check boxes while he’s here.”

The Dodgers bullpen could use all the help it could get, entering Thursday with a 4.90 ERA, ranking 29th among 30 major league teams. Hudson last year had a 2.22 ERA and 2.74 xERA in 25 games before getting hurt, with 30 strikeouts against only five walks.

“His innings, when we do deploy him, will be huge,” Roberts said.