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Dodgers injury news: Clayton Kershaw plays catch, aims for September return

Division rivals are likely encouraging the lefty to take all the time he needs.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Dodgers are in that fun place with an injured key player in which their desire to have Clayton Kershaw back in the rotation is matched only by their desire to not see him hurt himself even further. With a herniated disk, Kershaw hasn’t seen daylight on a mound since a simulated game on July 17 in which his back issues had flared up.

But Sunday afternoon, Kershaw played a game of catch; the first part of a plan that ends with him leading the Dodgers staff again by September. One game behind the bumbling second half Giants, the reinsertion of Kershaw into the NL West race would be most unwelcome news to any competitors. But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts isn’t going to get ahead of himself, however.

Dave Roberts said he hadn't yet heard how [Kershaw playing catch] went, but was optimistic that any problems would be natural for a player throwing for the first time in weeks.

"I'm sure there was some soreness, but it was still good to see him with the baseball in his hand," Roberts said.

Prior to his departure, you might have heard Kershaw’s name a time or two in 2016. Even though he hasn’t pitched in three weeks, he’s still topping the NL pitching charts with his 1.79 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 0.7 BB/9 (9 BB total), 16.11 SO/W, 0.4 HR/9... I mean, take your pick.

By the time he would be theoretically ready to throw off a mound again, the minor league season will have closed, meaning Kershaw would rejoin the Dodgers without a rehab start. But this sounds a little of a ways off at the moment, with L.A. putting together a careful, if aggressive, protocol for Kershaw’s recovery including a slowly intensifying sequence of bullpen sessions and simulated games. In the mean time, the 28-year-old lefty will have to find an outlet through which to channel his steely demeanor.