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Dodgers are nearing decision time on Jimmy Nelson

RHP is on rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City

Los Angeles Dodgers Photo Day Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — Jimmy Nelson has pitched nine games on his current minor league rehab assignment, trying to work his way back to the majors for the first time in nearly two years. But the long road back might be even longer.

Nelson last pitched for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday, allowing one hit in a scoreless inning. That was his fifth game in Triple-A after four games in the Arizona Complex League. Nelson has allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits in 8⅔ innings, striking out 10 of his 40 batters faced.

The 34-year-old Nelson has been healthy enough to pitch nine games over the last three and a half weeks, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll be joining the Dodgers anytime soon.

“There’s the health component, that’s one part of it,” manager Dave Roberts said Thursday at Dodger Stadium. “But also on rehab, getting the stuff where it needs to be, to be major-league-ready and serviceable. We haven’t gotten quite there yet.”

Nelson last pitched in a major league game on July 30, 2021, for the Dodgers. But he had Tommy John surgery and flexor tendon repair soon after, and has been recovering ever since. In February, he signed with the Dodgers for $1.2 million, his fourth consecutive one-year deal with the club, and started the season on the 60-day injured list.

Nelson might be running out of time. Minor league rehab assignments for pitchers can last up to 30 days, and Nelson started this rehab assignment on June 10. His 30 days are up on Sunday, which means by Monday the Dodgers will need to activate him off the injured list, which would also require a corresponding transaction to make room on the 40-man roster, or designate him for assignment.

There’s also the possibility of simply pausing the rehab assignment if Nelson has a setback, but he’s been healthy enough to pitch nine times in the last 27 days. He did start a rehab back in April but only pitched one game before getting shut down from game action for the next five weeks.

“I really don’t know what’s going to happen on Day 31,” Roberts said.