Clayton Kershaw faces two more tests before he returns to the Dodgers' rotation. But they're minor tests, said Manager Don Mattingly, who expects to use Kershaw in Monday's opener of a three-games series in Washington.
Mattingly, who exchanged text messages with Kershaw on Thursday morning, said the Dodgers must first be convinced that the left-hander is not experiencing any pain after Wednesday's five-inning rehab start for Double-A Chattanooga. And then the reigning Cy Young Award winner will need to throw a pain-free bullpen session over the weekend in Miami before he'll be cleared to come off the disabled list.
“We still continue on the same path. We have a plan for him," Mattingly said of Kershaw. "But we still have to get past today and the bullpen.”
Kershaw hasn't pitched for the Dodgers since their season opener in Australia, after which he was placed on the DL with a strained muscle in his upper back. If Kershaw is activated, Mattingly said Zack Greinke, who pitched Wednesday on extended rest, would be pushed back again to start Tuesday's game in Washington.
The Dodgers had some business to take care of in Minneapolis before they could think about any of that, though. Because of Tuesday's weather-related postponement, the Dodgers and Twins were scheduled to play a day-night doubleheader on get-away day, Thursday.
Unbeaten Dan Haren (3-0, 2.03) was scheduled to start the opener while right-hander Red Patterson was chosen to start the second game in his major league debut.
"Red’s a guy that kind of got on the radar over the last year," Mattingly said. "We liked him in spring training. He’s a strike-thrower. And with this club over here [the Twins], if you don’t throw them strikes, you’re going to have a long day.
"So we feel like he’s a guy who’s going to come in here and challenge the strike zone and be the best guy for this start."
The Dodgers called Patterson up from Triple-A Albuquerque, invoking the 26-man rule which allows teams to temporarily expand their roster if they are forced to play an unscheduled doubleheader.
Patterson is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA at Albuquerque. To create room for him on the 40-man roster the Dodgers designated Nick Buss for assignment.