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Clayton Kershaw is ready for Dodgers return after effective and efficient rehab start

Clayton Kershaw is ready for Dodgers return after effective and efficient rehab start
Clayton Kershaw pitches in the first inning for the triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers against the San Antonio Missions on April 4 during a rehab assignment. (Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press)

While his teammates tussled with the Cardinals in St. Louis, Clayton Kershaw was in Tulsa pitching for the Dodgers’ double-A affiliate in his second rehab start and applying the finishing touches before joining the big league club.

The left-hander, who is on the injured list because of shoulder inflammation, pitched six innings and gave up two runs on home runs in the sixth inning. He surrendered five hits, didn’t walk a batter, and struck out six batters. He threw 81 pitches, 50 for strikes.

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Kershaw’s fastball, according to a radio broadcast, sat from 88 to 90 mph. It touched 92 mph at least once. Perhaps more importantly, his slider, a pitch pivotal to his success, was sharp, often featuring some of the depth required to fool hitters. Last season, the slider’s lack of depth made the pitch resemble his fastball too closely. The similarity eased the job for batters.

Kershaw cruised through five innings in which two batters reached on hits and one on an error. He encountered trouble in the sixth inning, beginning with a leadoff home run by Kramer Robertson, the son of Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey. After two strikeouts, Dylan Carlson hit a home run and Kershaw gave up an infield single. He struck out the final hitter he faced and walked off to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd at ONEOK Field.

If healthy, the 31-year-old Kershaw is expected to make his season debut with the Dodgers on Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers or Monday against the Cincinnati Reds.

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