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|The last time Clayton Kershaw pitched at Wrigley Field Phillip Danault Jersey , the ace left-hander helped lead the Los Angeles Dodgers into the World Series. It was a much different situation Monday. But still important for the Dodgers.
Kershaw threw a three-inning simulated game before Los Angeles’ series opener against the Chicago Cubs was postponed, taking another step forward in his recovery from a strained lower back. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner said he felt really good and plans to pitch somewhere in four or five days, either in a minor league rehab start or for the Dodgers.
”It was good, very encouraged,” manager Dave Roberts said. ”Just the way that the ball was coming out today, the command of the fastball as good as it’s been for me – and obviously this setting is not a major league game – but for me the best it’s been in a month, for sure.”
The 30-year-old Kershaw was sidelined for nearly a month with left biceps tendinitis before returning May 31 against Philadelphia. He tossed five effective innings in a no-decision against the Phillies, and then went back on the disabled list the next day with the back injury.
The Dodgers said over the weekend that Kershaw was headed for a simulated game Tuesday or Wednesday – in Los Angeles. But Kershaw said that was just one of the plans in the mix.
”I knew it was probably going to be here,” he said. ”It’s just more of a logistical thing. It’s just harder to do in L.A. Nobody’s there when you go on the road.
”It’s just when you have hitters in there it’s good to see some, even though it’s a sim game at least you have them reacting. It was a little bit better today.”
The trip brought Kershaw back to one of the best moments of his outstanding career, a crisp six innings in an 11-1 victory over Chicago in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series last October – sending Los Angeles to the World Series for the first time since 1988. The Dodgers then lost to the Astros in seven games for the title.
He also was greeted by some Los Angeles-like weather, with temperatures in the mid-90s on a steamy day in the Midwest.
”It was hot Authentic Shea Weber Jersey ,” he said. ”It was good, it lets you get loose.”
Kershaw is 1-4 with a 2.76 ERA in just eight starts this year for Los Angeles, which has been riddled by injuries. He missed about five weeks last season with a similar back injury.
While Roberts left open the possibility Kershaw could return this weekend against the Mets, he said the organization was leaning toward a rehab start, likely with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
”You look at how much he’s pitched over the last two months and it hasn’t been a whole lot,” he said. ”So to see it in real competition, obviously that makes a lot of sense.”
Los Angeles had won five of six heading into the three-game set with Chicago. The opener was postponed because of rain and a limited power outage at Wrigley, creating a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday.
The Dodgers have more help on the way than just Kershaw.
Rich Hill is slated to start Tuesday night in his first major league game since May 19. The veteran left-hander has been sidelined by a blister on his left middle finger.
Infielder Chase Utley, who has been sidelined by left thumb sprain, is expected to come off the DL on Tuesday or Wednesday. Rookie right-hander Walker Buehler, one of baseball’s top pitching prospects, is scheduled for a bullpen session Saturday in New York Jeff Driskel Jersey , continuing his comeback from a right rib microfracture.
”From that point on we’ll have a little more information and figure out how aggressive we’ll want to be with him,” Roberts said.
Jay Cohen can be reached at Blaine Hardy was supposed to be a short-term starter while injured Tigers pitchers recovered.
A string of solid outings by the veteran left-hander, though, has Detroit management reconsidering that plan.
Nicholas Castellanos homered and Hardy pitched one-run ball into the sixth, leading the Tigers over the Chicago White Sox 3-1 on Sunday for their fifth straight win.
Hardy (3-1) allowed one run on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He has given up two runs or less in six of his seven starts – the first starts of his five-year career.
Manager Ron Gardenhire said he’s considering a six-man rotation when Francisco Liriano returns from the disabled list – a week after dismissing that as an option.
”We got some guys in there who might need extra days that could probably use it,” Gardenhire said. ”We started thinking we could probably do this with some of these guys, give them a breather going into All-Star break.”
Hardy said he won’t be sweating out a decision.
”I’ve really gone start to start from the get-go,” he said. ”Even if they tell me I’m in the rotation for the rest of the year, I’m probably going to do the same thing. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Jose Iglesias added an RBI single as Detroit improved to 8-1 against the White Sox this season, including 6-0 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Castellanos homered twice on Saturday and connected again in his first at-bat Sunday. Before Saturday, he was mired in a 1-for-21 slump over the previous five games.
Matt Davidson hit his 12th homer and Kevan Smith had two hits for Chicago, which has dropped four straight.
James Shields (2-8) allowed three runs on six hits in six-plus innings. Shields walked Jeimer Candelario with one out in the first and Castellanos followed with a homer.
”I got behind in the count to Castellanos Nick Vigil Jersey ,” Shields said. ”I thought he just popped it up, but it ended up going over the fence. They’re hot right now.”
After Davidson’s solo homer in the second – his first since May 13 – Iglesias drove in Niko Goodrum in the fourth to make it 3-1.
THE HEAT IS ON
The temperature at the start was 92 degrees and it rose a couple of degrees from there.
”The only place I’ve probably seen hotter weather is Texas,” Hardy said. ”It’s one of those things where you go out there and try to go as long as you can.”
With closer Shane Greene unavailable after pitching four straight days, Joe Jimenez struck out the side in the ninth for his second save.
”He’s been throwing really well as a setup guy whenever we put him in,” Gardenhire said. ”You can see the velocity. He’s a power guy and he’s confident now. He’s gotten over that I-don’t-want-to-make-a-mistake thing and he just attacks.”
Tigers: LHP Daniel Stumpf (ulnar nerve irritation) is expected to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday.
White Sox: RHP Miguel Gonzalez (rotator cuff inflammation) reported no problems following a 25-pitch session on Saturday. The plan is for him to throw another session – 25 pitches or more – during the three-game series at Cleveland.
Tigers: LHP Matthew Boyd (4-4, 3.23 ERA) starts the opener of a two-game series at Cincinnati on Tuesday night. RHP Sal Romano (3-7, 5.67) pitches for the Reds.
White Sox: RHP Dylan Covey (3-1, 2.29 ERA) takes the mound in the opener of a three-game series at Cleveland on Monday night. Covey is 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA in his last three starts. RHP Trevor Bauer (5-5, 2.69) goes for the Indians.