Dodgers opt for 'conservative approach' with Kershaw

Three-time Cy Young Award winner set for bullpen session Saturday

Dodgers opt for 'conservative approach' with Kershaw

CINCINNATI -- A jovial Clayton Kershaw walked into the Dodgers' locker room on Friday. Having been on the disabled list since July 1, the opportunities to join his team on the road have been few.

"It's fun to be on the road with the guys," Kershaw said. "It's no fun sitting and watching. Even though I can't play yet, I like being here, I like being with the guys, I like being on the road."

Kershaw traveled with the team because he'll be throwing a bullpen on Saturday, his first time on the mound since his rehab setback in mid-July as he attempted to return quickly from his herniated disc.

This time, the Dodgers have taken things a lot slower, but remain "cautiously optimistic" that Kershaw's problems are behind him.

"I gave it a shot the first time being we were all pretty aggressive with the whole thing," Kershaw said. "I didn't really have any signs that it was going to backfire, but it did, and so now we go with the conservative approach. Still no fun to sit here, but having different steps, getting to go on the road, get to throw bullpens kind of keeps you more optimistic."

Kershaw's bullpen will consist of between 20 and 25 pitches. Assuming everything goes well, he'll throw a 40-pitch bullpen in Los Angeles on Tuesday. From there, he could move on to live hitters, although manager Dave Roberts opted not to commit to too much, wanting to see how Kershaw's back responds.

"I think that for us, let's get past the 20 to 25 and then we've got the 40-pitch 'pen and see where we're at," Roberts said.

Kershaw strikes out Harper

Worth noting

• The Dodgers have gotten more positive news on the health front. Both Bud Norris, Friday's starter, and reliever Adam Liberatore were activated from the 15-day disabled list with Ross Stripling and Casey Fein optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

"To get Bud back, and I think that we expect Bud to throw the ball well tonight, and to get Lib back is certainly going to be a big boost, not only to get left-hand hitters out, but also right-handers," Roberts said. "His arm strength feels good, body feels good. With all the things that we've incurred, we still find a way to be optimistic."

Rich Hill might also be on track to return soon, which would be his Dodgers debut. Hill has been on the DL with a blister that pulled him from his July 17 start before recording an out. Roberts said that Hill would start next week after throwing 75 pitches on Thursday, likely to return in one of the games against the Giants from Aug. 23 to Aug. 25.

"Rich threw 75 pitches last night at about 6 Pacific Standard Time and it went really well, the blister, all that stuff," Roberts said. "We're going to pencil him sometime next week. I haven't decided which day."

Julio Urias will move back from the bullpen for a spot start on Sunday, Roberts said, allowing the team to push back Kenta Maeda to "early next week," likely Monday or Tuesday.

Urias fans Rupp

"I think it's what we've done all along with a lot of our starters, just the extra day or two of rest and trying to take the long view," Roberts said. "I think with Kenta's individual situation, I think it's helped him this year."

Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.