“He feels good,” Roberts said. “We feel good about it. He’s champing at the bit.”
Kershaw began the season on the 10-day injured list with shoulder inflammation, an ailment that derailed his spring training. The discomfort surfaced on Feb. 18 during a live batting practice session. Kershaw threw a bullpen session two days later before he was shut down. He didn’t throw a baseball for four days.
Kershaw’s progression was slow and steady, a point he emphasized during the process. He didn’t pitch to hitters in a live batting practice session until March 20. He then threw in a simulated game at Angel Stadium on March 25 and in another one at Dodger Stadium March 30. Two rehab starts -- the first with triple-A Oklahoma City, the second for double-A Tulsa -- followed.
Kershaw allowed two runs in four innings in his first outing April 4, on Oklahoma City’s opening day. Pitching for Tulsa on Tuesday, the left-hander gave up two runs -- both via solo homers -- in 5⅓ innings. He had six strikeouts with no walks and threw 81 pitches. He took a comebacker off his left calf but came out of the outing healthy. His fastball velocity sat between 88 and 90 mph, and touched 92 mph.
The next step, according to Roberts, was figuring out whether to have Kershaw pitch for the Dodgers on Sunday or Monday. Roberts said the team chose Monday to give the 31-year-old Kershaw an extra day of rest.
Kershaw said he wanted to build up his arm strength enough to be able to deliver 100 pitches for the Dodgers from the outset.
“We’ve done what we can to put him in the best chance to help himself and us,” Roberts said. “And, obviously, not put the bullpen in jeopardy as far as his workload. So Clayton’s done that, we’ve done that, so we feel good about Monday.”
Dodgers swap relievers with OKC
Two days after calling up right-hander JT Chargois, the Dodgers optioned him back to Oklahoma City on Thursday and recalled right-hander Jaime Schultz. Chargois, 28, pitched in both games he spent with the Dodgers. He allowed two runs in 1⅔ innings.
“We used Chargois two days in a row, [so if there’s] something unforeseen you want some coverage and stay away from some other guys you might want to protect,” Roberts said.
Los Angeles acquired Schultz, 27, in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays in January after he compiled a 5.64 earned-run average across 22 games in his first big league action last season. He allowed one run in 1⅓ innings for Oklahoma City before he was called up.