While most of the recent injury news surrounding the Dodgers has been centered around the prospective return of staff ace Clayton Kershaw, there are a few other players close to activation who may impact the squad down the stretch of the season — most specifically veterans Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier.
Though many thought that the club would wait until rosters expand to bring back Gonzo, it appears as if he’ll be activated ahead of expansion on September 1. In five rehab games for Triple-A Oklahoma City, Gonzalez went 4-for-13, including a home run in four plate appearances against Salt Lake on Thursday evening. Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times on Friday reported that A-Gon will shift his rehab work to High-A Rancho Cucamonga on Saturday, indicating the move closer to home may suggest that his return is near. He’s been on the shelf since June 13 with a disc herniation, and was shifted over to the 60-day DL in late July.
After taking part in a simulated game on Tuesday and taking batting practice with the Dodgers on Wednesday, Ethier will officially begin his rehab assignment on Saturday, also with Rancho Cucamonga. If all goes according to plan, the 35-year-old outfielder should be set to join the big league squad in early September.
“He hasn’t played for quite some time so, for me, it’s going to be a Sept. 1 activation,” manager Dave Roberts said. “And get as many at-bats as he can while the minor-league season is still going.”
At Dodger Stadium on Friday, Kersh pitched off a mound for the first time since injuring his back on July 23. He threw approximately 35 pitches in the session, and all those who were on hand to watch the southpaw throw were impressed with what they saw, including Roberts.
“It went better than fine for us,” Roberts explained. “For us to get out of it unscathed, to feel good about it, very good. He used his entire mix. Obviously with him, the execution piece, he always expects perfection out of himself, which is great.”
The next step is for CK to throw another bullpen session in the next two to three days, then after a concise evaluation, schedule a rehab start not long after. The hope is for Kershaw to log four or five big league starts before the postseason begins.
Lefty reliever Grant Dayton appears to be getting healthier after having problems with neck stiffness, as he successfully threw a simulated session on Friday at Dodger Stadium.
“His neck has gotten a lot better,” Roberts said. “We’re looking for him to finish through the catcher’s mitt. There will be a short rehab and we’ll get him back soon.”
Utility man Rob Segedin continues to rehab his wrist with Oklahoma City and could be a candidate to surface on the big league roster after Sept 1, if all goes well between now and then.
McCullough also reported that reliever Chris Hatcher was in the big league dugout on Friday, after making five successful rehab appearances with OKC. Roberts indicated that the Dodgers may consider activating the 32-year-old righty sometime this weekend.
Looking way ahead to a potential postseason roster, a healthy Kershaw slide back into the No. 1 starting slot without question, while both Gonzalez and Ethier, if 100%, could find themselves competing for one or two of the final spots on the playoff squad.
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