Kershaw plays catch, is 'considerably better'

Dodgers get encouraging reports on ace, Anderson and Ethier

Kershaw plays catch, is 'considerably better'

LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw (herniated disk) took a big step in his recovery Wednesday, playing catch for the first time since he hit the 15-day disabled list. The Dodgers' ace is now ahead of schedule in his rehab.

The good news for the Dodgers didn't end there, as both Brett Anderson (back) and Andre Ethier (fractured right tibia) have accelerated in their rehab over the last couple of weeks and could return by mid-August.

"It's encouraging," manager Dave Roberts said. "The guys that have been healthy have done a great job, but to have the guys coming back from injury just adds to our depth and it's going to be quite a few arms at our disposal."

Kershaw threw on flat ground at Dodger Stadium from approximately 30 feet before Wednesday's game against the Orioles. Roberts was still hesitant to put a timetable on Kershaw's return, but it could be soon enough that the manager doesn't see the lefty needing a rehab assignment.

Kershaw received an epidural injection around the time he hit the DL, which Roberts said "absolutely" did what the team was hoping for.

"He says his body is feeling considerably better, his back. Hopefully, we continue to move in that same direction," Roberts said. "We've got to keep a close eye on him because he's going to push it as much as he possibly can."

Anderson's timetable was 3-5 months when he went down with a back injury in Spring Training, and the left-hander has improved enough in the last two weeks that Roberts said a mid-August return is "pretty realistic." He threw a bullpen session Tuesday for the first time since the injury.

Ethier could be back by the Dodgers' first game in August, but that's contingent on him improving at the same rate he has in the last few weeks. The outfielder has been throwing and taking swings, with the next step being taking batting practice on the field. A bone scan was scheduled sometime this week, but the medical staff no longer feels it's needed.

"I don't know if it's being around his teammates more that has him even more incentivized, but his body is responding," Roberts said.

Both Anderson and Ethier will require a rehab assignment.

Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.