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Dodgers upbeat after Clayton Kershaw throws bullpen session

Dodgers pitchers Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir and Rich Hill jog together before a game against the Phillies on Aug. 9.
(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

A stream of Dodgers officials trotted across the slick grass at Great American Ball Park, bound for the bullpen near the right-field foul pole. Inside the bullpen, for the first time since July 16, Clayton Kershaw was throwing off a mound.

The audience included Manager Dave Roberts, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and bench coach Bob Geren. Based on Roberts’ estimate, Kershaw threw 22 pitches, and offered another encouraging sign that he could play again for the Dodgers this season.

“I thought it was successful,” Roberts said. “With my own eyes, I thought the intensity was there. Very productive.”

The schedule calls for Kershaw to throw another bullpen session after two days off. The Dodgers hope he could start again at some point in September, though the details of their plan to return him to big league action remain close to the proverbial vest. He has not pitched since June 26 because of a herniated disk in his lower back.

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Kershaw pronounced himself pleased with the session, but declined to place a sizable amount of meaning on it.

“I felt good,” he said. “I don’t know. Until you face hitters, you don’t really know for sure. I feel 100% right now, so that’s a good sign.”

As Kershaw spoke with a small group of reporters, a few of his teammates appeared amused by the concept of conducting an interview after a mundane activity like a bullpen session. Adrian Gonzalez offered to answer questions after he took batting practice. A minute later, as Kershaw’s interview wound down, Gonzalez stood on the edge of the pack.

“Clayton, are you going to take it one day at a time, and work hard like you always do . . .” Gonzalez said.

“Give it 110%,” Kershaw said.

“And every day give everybody info on how it’s going?” Gonzalez said.

“No, not every day,” Kershaw said.

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On the other side of the scrum, Justin Turner held a paper cup filled to the brim with orange sludge, a product created in the visiting clubhouse cafeteria.

“Have you tried the Orangesicle Icee?” Turner asked.

“It’s so good,” Kershaw said. “So good.”

The interview wrapped up soon afterward. Kershaw appeared uncomfortable with the prospect of a daily dissection of his rehabilitation, but understood its relevance.

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The Dodgers rotation has taken on water in recent days, after a series of disastrous outings that included Bud Norris giving up six runs and failing to complete the fourth inning on Friday.

The team’s need for Kershaw is obvious. So is his own desire to return.

Wary of repeating the follies of his first attempt at recovery, when he hustled into a simulated game and reinjured his back, he has shown a willingness to slow his pace. The bullpen session on Saturday was another small step.

“It went good,” Kershaw said. “Some pitching stuff to work on, but physically I feel good.”

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andy.mccullough@latimes.com

Follow Andy McCullough on Twitter @McCulloughTimes


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