LOS ANGELES — Dodgers designated hitter J.D. Martinez offered a quick assessment for his left hamstring on Monday, which has kept him out of the starting lineup for two days.
“I’m healthy. I feel good,” Martinez said in the clubhouse. “I’ll be in there tomorrow.”
Martinez was a late scratch from Sunday’s lineup with left hamstring tightness. Will Smith moved into the DH slot in the series finale in Texas. On Monday, Max Muncy is the designated hitter, with Yonny Hernández getting the start at third base against the Blue Jays.
Manager Dave Roberts agreed with the assessment that Martinez would start on Tuesday, and that he’ll likely be available off the bench on Monday night.
Clayton Kershaw’s longer, “aggressive” bullpen session is expected to come Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, but even that is subject to change.
“It’s more being sensitive to working backward from when he starts,” Roberts said. “If he doesn’t feel, if we don’t feel 100-percent convicted, then to push it back a day or two, depending on what his process is, we’re prepared to do that.”
Following this bullpen session would likely be a simulated game of three innings or so, which could be the final hurdle before returning to the rotation. It sure feels like Roberts’ previously nebulous “beginning of August” estimate for Kershaw’s return will come true. It’s just a matter of when next week might Kershaw rejoin the rotation.
“It depends on who you ask,” Roberts said, indicating Kershaw prefers a quicker timetable. “I will say where we were thinking is more along with the lines with where we’re at.”
Checking in on Thor
Noah Syndergaard was throwing in the outfield at Dodger Stadium before Monday’s game, checking in after making two starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City on a minor league rehab assignment.
Syndergaard has pitched five innings in both starts for Oklahoma City, striking out six while allowing two runs on July 15, then allowing four runs with two strikeouts last Friday. Up next is another start for Oklahoma City in Reno on Thursday night.
“That’s when the rubber meets the road and we’ve got to make a decision,” Roberts said.
Syndergaard has struggled mightily since signing a one-year deal with the Dodgers in the offseason. He has a 7.16 ERA in 12 starts with a plummeting strikeout rate and low velocity. Roberts previously said Syndergaard’s rehab assignment was about more than simply building up his innings, that the right-hander would need to show he’s ready to pitch competitively in the majors.
The decision the Dodgers would need to make on Syndergaard could be deciding if he’s worth the roster spot on a team that will certainly make additions by the August 1 trade deadline. It could be as simple as transferring Syndergaard to the 60-day injured list, which would clear a 40-man roster spot while not fundamentally alter his timetable, if there is one.
Syndergaard was placed on the 15-day IL on June 8, so moving him to the 60-day IL would simply mean the earliest he could possibly return would be August 7.