Kershaw, Wood make strides in sim games

Dodgers' ace on track for Thursday return from DL

Kershaw, Wood make strides in sim games

PHOENIX -- Clayton Kershaw's back passed another test on Saturday with a 60-pitch simulated game at Dodger Stadium, and while manager Dave Roberts still won't commit to the ace's return date, he is lined up to pitch Thursday night for the Dodgers in Washington.

Kershaw has been on the disabled list since June 27 with a slight herniated disk in his lower back. Alex Wood, out with a posterior elbow impingement since May 31, threw a two-inning simulated game. Both faced hitters from Class A Rancho Cucamonga.

"From what I hear, they both went well," Roberts said. "Clayton threw 60 pitches, Woody two innings, 40 pitches, I think. Both went really well, as good as we could have hoped. We'll see tomorrow how they respond."

With an arm injury, Wood needs more time, but if Kershaw keeps to his normal throwing schedule, he will have a bullpen session on Monday and be ready for a game three days later. Because his injury was not to his arm, Roberts said Kershaw does not need a Minor League rehab stint and won't be under a pitch limit.

"Clayton threw all pitches, max effort," Roberts said. "With where he's at and when he does come back, he'll be free to do whatever he can do. It's hard to put a leash on Clayton. Woody is a little behind, but he's coming along. Brett Anderson [back surgery] will throw tomorrow or Monday. Guys are coming. Wood will throw a [bullpen session] and then [a sim game] around 60 pitches.

"With Clayton, limited time off, he's given us the confidence to know the arm strength is still there. It's about how his back feels and it's responded favorably."

If the Dodgers send out Kershaw on Thursday, he would follow Scott Kazmir and Hyun-Jin Ryu -- three lefties to face the Nationals with the goal of neutralizing left-handed hitters Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.