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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers could get ace Clayton Kershaw back within two weeks.
Kershaw will start his minor league rehabilitation assignment Friday at Class A Rancho Cucamonga, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly announced Wednesday, and will make at least one other minor league start before the team decides whether to activate him from the 15-day disabled list.
Kershaw made just one regular-season start, a strong 6 2/3 innings March 22 against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Australia, before going on the 15-day disabled list with a strained teres major muscle in his upper back.
Mattingly wouldn't commit to how many rehab starts Kershaw would make before coming back, saying, "We'll just go one at a time and see. More than one, for sure."
Kershaw has been steadily throwing bullpen sessions for more than a week and threw a 55-pitch simulated game Sunday at Dodger Stadium, so he likely won't have to build up his arm strength as extensively as he would if this were spring training. He made just four spring training starts this year because of the Dodgers' trip to Australia but normally would make as many as seven.
Mattingly said Kershaw will be under no restrictions in Rancho Cucamonga other than a pitch limit of around 60.
"I don't think anybody's going to let him go out if we weren't allowing him to just go pitch," Mattingly said. "He hasn't felt anything since that one day. There's been no day in there that he's felt anything throwing a baseball."
If Kershaw returns after two minor league games, he likely will rejoin the Dodgers' rotation during a May 5-7 trip to Washington.