Dodgers News: Clayton Kershaw Open To Potential Bullpen Role, But Focused On Returning As Starter

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Among the injuries the Los Angeles Dodgers have absorbed this season, Clayton Kershaw being sidelined in July because of left forearm inflammation was arguably the most disconcerting.

An MRI did not reveal any structural damage but after Kershaw built up to pitching in a simulated game last month, he suffered from lingering elbow soreness. That required being shut down for a second time and delayed his return.

With that likely not to come before September anyhow, the Dodgers transferred him to the 60-day injured list. The paper move made Sunday, Sept. 5 the earliest date Kershaw can be activated.

After spending the past week playing catch, Kershaw threw a bullpen session at Petco Park ahead of the series opener against the San Diego Padres. Indications were it went well, but Wednesday was going to be more of an indicator.

Kershaw was encouraged by crossing off that barometer as well and although time may be running short, is hopeful to return as a member of the starting rotation but will accept a bullpen role if necessary, via SportsNet LA:

“I don’t know if there’s a goal other than I want to pitch, I want to help and I want to start. Assuming I can get to that point and build up to that point, I think that would be the goal. … I’m not to that point yet to worry about that (potential bullpen role), but obviously I’m going to do whatever is needed or wanted. My focus is to get back and start, but obviously whatever I can do, I’ll do.”

Next for Kershaw is another bullpen session that will entail throwing his offspeed pitches. “I would think Friday or something like that, when we get back home,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

“He’ll use his mix, spin some balls, and after he gets out of that we’ll kind of go from there.”

Dodgers not pressuring Kershaw

While there is a clear preference for both the Dodgers and Kershaw that he stretches back out to being a starter, the team will not rush the process.

“I don’t want to put the staff or Clayton in any box,” Roberts said. “I just think for us, each day let’s improve, let’s get strong and build up the arm. Where that gets us, whenever that takes place, we’ll just kind of see what role makes the most sense.

“I do know that Clayton, first and foremost wants to be healthy, and he’s open to whatever will help the team at that point.”

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