Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw getting closer to facing hitters

In throwing a 40-pitch bullpen session at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, Clayton Kershaw took a significant step toward a return to the Dodgers by completing an activity that sounds mundane.

He sat down without incident.

Kershaw threw a pair of simulated innings in the bullpen, and did not experience pain in his lower back while resting between them. The absence of discomfort encouraged Kershaw.

“That was the hard part for me before, sitting down in between innings,” Kershaw said before the Dodgers’ game against the San Francisco Giants. “It was just not very comfortable to sit. Definitely a positive step there, sitting down, not even thinking about it. I felt fine.”

Manager Dave Roberts indicated the next step for Kershaw would be a 60-pitch bullpen within the next couple days. If Kershaw clears that hurdle, he could be on track for either a rehabilitation assignment in the minors or a simulated game against hitters.

The Dodgers have debated internally how many rehab outings Kershaw would require. Kershaw made his opinion clear.

“We talked about, potentially, two,” Roberts said. “But it became one. Obviously, he’s more the aggressor. That’s what makes him great.”

As he rebuilds stamina, Kershaw indicated his greatest test would come in a live setting, when he dealt with the added adrenaline of facing opponents. He stressed that he could not gauge his readiness until he completed that step.

“I think it’s time to at least see some hitters, whenever that is, and make sure I can still get guys out,” Kershaw said.

Kershaw has not pitched since June 26. He was in the midst of one of his finest seasons, with an 11-2 record and a 1.79 earned-run average across 121 innings.

“It’s not fun sitting here, obviously,” said Kershaw, who joined the Dodgers on Friday in Cincinnati. “It was great to get on the road, see the guys play. You just want to be a part of the team right now. It’s one of the closest teams I’ve been a part of, and we’re playing really well. I’d like to be a part of it.”

Anderson, Kazmir to disabled list

The Dodgers placed 40% of their starting rotation on the disabled list, shutting down Brett Anderson because of a blister on his left index finger and Scott Kazmir because of neck inflammation.

Kazmir became the 27th  Dodger to land on the disabled list, which tied a major league record set by the Boston Red Sox in 2012.

The team also optioned reliever Josh Fields to the minors, and recalled pitcher Ross Stripling, reliever Luis Avilan and infielder Charlie Culberson. Stripling could start in Kazmir’s place on Thursday against San Francisco.

andy.mccullough@latimes.com

Twitter: @McCulloughTimes

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