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Clayton Kershaw simulated game next step in road to return

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Dodgers Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw’s long road back from shoulder soreness took a big step on Saturday at Dodger Stadium, when the Dodgers left-hander pitched three innings in a simulated game before the team’s game against the Reds.

Kershaw faced James Outman, Austin Barnes, and Amed Rosario during his simulated game, his first time facing hitters since July 27, in his last start for the Dodgers, at Coors Field in Colorado.

“The fastball was fine, the slider was fine. I think the curveball wasn’t sharp today,” manager Dave Roberts said. “But the main thing was just to see how he looked, and get him up and down a few times. We accomplished what we wanted to.”

Kershaw has been sidelined for a month on the injured list, but has been asymptomatic since shortly after receiving a cortisone shot in his shoulder. He was prescribed rest by team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache, which Kershaw begrudgingly accepted. Coming out of the All-Star break, Roberts initially said Kershaw’s return would be roughly the beginning of August, and that still could be true.

What’s next is for the Dodgers and Kershaw to come to a decision on what’s next, with the ball likely in his court.

He could opt for another simulated game, with Kershaw stretched out to four innings there before getting activated. Or Kershaw could start for the Dodgers as early as next weekend, which would be in San Diego against the Padres, but he would only likely be able to pitch four innings or so in his first start back.

“If that does happen, I don’t know what day that would be. And you’d have to have coverage and appreciate what that means for the forthcoming days,” Roberts said. “But again, if Clayton feels good, we’re going to support it, and we’ll find a way to make it.”

After Monday’s off day, the Dodgers play for 13 consecutive days from August 1-13. As for the series before next weekend, the Dodgers host the A’s from Tuesday to Thursday. Julio Urías, Lance Lynn, and Tony Gonsolin will start those three games, with an order yet to be announced.