PHOENIX — They are the three words the Dodgers would most like to hear from Clayton Kershaw two weeks after he suffered a lower back strain.
“I feel healthy,” Kershaw said after joining the team in Arizona and going through a full workout at Chase Field on Tuesday afternoon.
“I feel healthy. So I think now it’s just a matter of building back up at a good pace, obviously understanding where we’re at and the timeline and all that stuff.”
Kershaw did flat-ground throwing as part of his workout Tuesday and did not appear to be holding much back. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said last week that Kershaw was already pushing to step up his activity level and be allowed to throw off a mound. That could happen soon, Roberts said.
“I think a bullpen (session) in the next few days makes sense. It’ll probably be when we get back to Los Angeles (for the weekend),” Roberts said.
“He’s close. It just makes sense for us to be cautious again. We just don’t want to put ourselves into any situation where there’s a setback. The calendar is on our side. I know Clayton resists that. But I think as an organization it’s best for him and best for everyone if we just err on the side of caution for a couple days.”
Kershaw acknowledged that he has been on the DL long enough now that he will need to go through the progression from bullpen sessions to a simulated-game situation and finally to a rehab assignment before he rejoins the Dodgers’ rotation.
“I don’t feel like I’ve lost much. Still, being a starter you have to build your innings back and it’s going to take a little time to do that,” Kershaw said.
“For the most part, I’ve had a few days off but pretty much have been throwing the whole time minus those first few days (after the injury). But if you’re not throwing innings, you’re not sitting down and getting back, you inherently lose some of your stamina and endurance probably. (I’m) going to have to simulate that at some point, go through the whole bullpen, sim game, rehab, all that stuff. But I feel healthy right now. So that’s good.”
After leaving his July 23 start after just two innings due to the back injury, Kershaw was symptom-free quickly enough to begin playing catch by the end of the week. Two weeks later, he is ready to throw off a mound again.
“I definitely knew it wasn’t as bad as last year,” he said, referring to the mild disc herniation that sidelined him for 75 days last season. “When the MRI…