<
>

Clayton Kershaw sharp in Class A

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw breezed through five innings in a minor league rehabilitation assignment for Class A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday night.

Neither Kershaw nor the team is ruling out the possibility his next start could be in the major leagues.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly originally said Kershaw would need at least two minor league outings as he works his way back from an inflamed teres major muscle near his left shoulder.

But that was before Kershaw needed just 56 pitches to strike out six of the Houston Astros' Class A batters, allowing two hits, including a home run to infielder Carlos Perdomo.

"I don't know yet," Kershaw said when asked where he'd like to pitch next. "I'm not sure what I want to do or the team wants to do or if they align or anything like that. I'm not planning on any confusion, though."

If Kershaw pitches for the Dodgers in his next outing, he would be on the mound next week in Minnesota and he likely would be on a highly limited pitch count.

Before the Dodgers' game with the Colorado Rockies at Friday night at Dodger Stadium, Mattingly told reporters the plan with Kershaw is up in the air based on how he feels. The Dodgers have left their pitching plans vague for the Minnesota series.

"He'll throw another [bullpen], and we'll make a decision from there," Mattingly said.

Kershaw was injured pitching on Opening Day in Australia on March 22, and Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt wondered whether the short spring training schedule forced on them by the season-opening trip was a contributing factor.

Kershaw made just four Cactus League starts before throwing 102 pitches over 6 2/3 innings in a 3-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Kershaw said he feels ready to go after Friday night. He got through three of his five innings in seven pitches or fewer. According to the stadium radar gun, Kershaw's fastball touched 93 mph a few times, but he said he doesn't trust those readings. He threw all his pitches.

"I feel fine now," Kershaw said. "Obviously, I guess you have to make sure tomorrow goes OK, but I don't foresee any problems when I wake up tomorrow."

Kershaw, who signed a seven-year, $215 million contract extension in January, had never been on the disabled list until now, so this was his first minor league outing since 2008, when he was 20. He said he enjoyed interacting with some of the Dodgers' Class A prospects.

"It was fun," Kershaw said. "I hope I never have to do it again, but it was fun."