Kershaw plays catch for 1st time since setback

Kershaw plays catch for 1st time since setback

LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw (herniated disk in back) took his first step forward Sunday in his path to returning this season, playing catch at Dodger Stadium for the first time since his setback in mid-July.

Kershaw has been shut down since a simulated game on July 17 caused his back to flare up. Between then and Sunday, he had been undergoing back stabilization procedures with no throwing work.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he hadn't yet heard how it went, but was optimistic that any problems would be natural for a player throwing for the first time in weeks.

"I'm sure there was some soreness, but it was still good to see him with the baseball in his hand," Roberts said.

Roberts pushed any possible return date for Kershaw into September on Friday, saying that the ace had a set of marks to meet with his back to begin his rehab. With those marks apparently met, the team will start ramping up Kershaw's throwing and hope he can make it back this season.

"Just continue to get his intensity up and stretch him out a little more," Roberts said. "Like I've said all along, with Clayton, he's not a guy that we worry about as far as the intensity, the intent to get back, so he'll be back as soon as he possibly can."

Due to the end of the Minor League season, Roberts said that a return for Kershaw would have to come without a rehab assignment with an affiliate. Instead, the team will have him do bullpen sessions, live batting practices, and simulated games until the southpaw feels he's ready to return.

"Whenever he feels ready to go, then we'll pencil him in and get him going," Roberts said. "All along, we've expected, and a little bit of it is being hopeful, but we expect him to make starts for us this year at some time."

Worth noting

• Right-hander Yimi Garcia (biceps) had a setback during his rehab with Double-A Tulsa and isn't expected back this season. Roberts said it has not been determined if Garcia will need surgery.

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.