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Kershaw takes step forward with simulated inning

FILE PHOTO: Feb 25, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) looks on prior to facing the Chicago Cubs at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw threw a simulated inning Wednesday as he continues his build-up process for the regular season, one day after it was announced that he would begin the season on the injured list.

Kershaw, who turned 31 on Tuesday, is working through shoulder inflammation that appeared at the start of spring training. He has pitched into October each of the past two seasons, as the Dodgers lost in the World Series both times, and he has dealt with injuries, mostly to his back, each of the past three years.

Kershaw threw 22 pitches on a back field at the Dodgers' spring training complex at Glendale, Ariz. Teammates Joc Pederson, Max Muncy and David Freese all stepped into the batter's box with Kershaw pitching, but none of them took swings.

"Health-wise, felt good," Kershaw said afterward, according to MLB.com. "You just have to start the build-up process. That's the bummer to being a starter. Can't skip innings, got to go an inning at a time. One inning down and go to two innings and work your way up to 100 pitches. I don't know the exact math, but you go up an inning a start and there's days in between. It's probably 20 days or something."

There is no timetable on Kershaw's return, but if he pitches that first full inning against hitters in the next week or so, there is a chance he could rejoin the Dodgers at some point in the second half of April.

There has been speculation Kershaw could pitch in a game in Arizona on Saturday, just before the Dodgers break camp.

The Dodgers still have not decided on an Opening Day pitcher. That assignment had belonged Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, for a team-record eight consecutive seasons.

"Better to miss a little at the beginning than any time at all the rest of it," Kershaw said. "Being out there Opening Day is special. I don't take that for granted. I love being out there and what it signifies and being part of the Dodger history and all that stuff. It's not lost on me. I love doing that. But when you get super realistic about it, it is just one game."

--Field Level Media