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Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw expects to return from elbow injury in early September

Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw adjusts his hat from inside the dugout.
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw has been out since July 7 because of elbow inflamation.
(Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who has been out since July 7 because of elbow inflammation, acknowledged Friday that he will not be able to return until early September.

The three-time National League Cy Young Award winner threw a three-inning, 45-pitch simulated game before a July 27 game in San Francisco, but he was unable to throw a scheduled four-inning, 60-pitch simulated game Sunday.

“Basically, I just tried to come back too fast, which is a bummer,” Kershaw, who is 9-7 with a 3.39 ERA in 18 starts, said before the Dodgers’ 4-3 loss to the Angels on Friday night. “After the sim game, it really didn’t respond well. It’s frustrating. It’s still nothing serious, but it’s something that’s going to take a little time.

“It’s no fun being hurt. It’s miserable. I really don’t enjoy it at all, especially with what’s going on here. I want to be part of the stretch run so bad, so I’m going to do everything I can do to get back, and I think I will be. But it’s definitely looking more like September than August.”

Fernando Valenzuela made two starts with the Angels in 1991. And while he didn’t pitch well, he proved to himself he still belonged in the majors.

Kershaw, who is partnering with the LA Dream Center to hand out 2,500 backpacks and school supplies at his foundation’s annual back-to-school bash Saturday, said he hopes to resume playing catch “soon.” He will need several weeks to build up enough arm strength to return to the rotation.

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Manager Dave Roberts said several MRI tests on Kershaw’s elbow have been “clean” and that he’s just waiting for the soreness to dissipate.

“I was probably a little too impatient with my rehab — that’s on me,” Kershaw said. “I wanted to be back. I wanted to pitch. This time, it’s a little different because we’re up against the calendar.

“There’s only so much you can rest before you go. We’re gonna rest as long as we can to give myself the best chance to pitch some meaningful games in September and be ready to go in October.”

Mookie Betts malaise

Right fielder Mookie Betts left Friday night’s game after six innings after aggravating his inflamed right hip while running from first to third on Justin Turner’s first-inning double.

Betts singled twice in three at-bats in his fourth game since being activated off the disabled list Sunday. He hit three homers in his first three games, but it appears the leadoff man is going to get more days off moving forward.

New Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer dazzled fans in his debut in the team’s win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

“As we look out, we’re probably gonna have to manage it a lot, quite often,” Roberts said of Betts’ injury. “Ideally, we wouldn’t, but our reality is, it’s something that’s not going to go away.

“So Mookie is doing what he can to give us innings out there defensively, give us at-bats, play with a governor on, so we have to manage it, and fortunately we have a lot of good players who can help support him.”

Price check

David Price gave the Dodgers 5 1/3 solid innings Friday night, giving up two earned runs and four hits, including solo homers to Jose Iglesias in the fifth inning and Jack Mayfield in the sixth, striking out four and walking none.

But the highlight of the veteran left-hander’s night was a 105-mph line drive that he rifled into right field for a single off Angels left-hander Patrick Sandoval in the fourth inning. The hit put two on with two outs, and Betts followed with an RBI single for a 2-0 Dodgers lead.

“That’s one of the highlights of my career right there,” said Price, a career .088 hitter who takes pride in his at-bats. “That’s the hardest-hit ball I’ve hit in the big leagues, especially in a game.

The Dodgers reach terms with free-agent pitcher Cole Hamels, who could provide rotation depth if Clayton Kershaw is slow to recover from a sore elbow.

“Facing a lefty, I told the guys I was a walking out today. I told Walker [Buehler] I just wanted to get the ball to the infield dirt. I did that in my first at-bat (a groundout to second) and then I hit that next ball hard. That was fun.”

Rehab report

Reliever Corey Knebel, out since April 24 because of a right-lat strain, appears to be on the verge of a return to the Dodgers.

The right-hander struck out all three batters he faced swinging in the seventh inning for triple-A Oklahoma City Friday night. In five outings during his minor league stint, Knebel has given up one run and three hits over 5 1/3 innings, with 10 strikeouts and one walk.


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