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Feeling good, Kershaw pushing for return

LOS ANGELES – The afternoon after throwing 56 pitches in a low-level minor league game, Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw reported that his body felt as if he had’t even taken the mound the night before.

“He felt good today,” manager Don Mattingly said Saturday afternoon before the Dodgers hosted the Colorado Rockies. “He said he felt like he didn’t even pitch.”

That kind of day-after report begs the question: When will Kershaw next appear in a major league game? And the answers could be as soon as next week, possibly when the Dodgers play in Miami next weekend, although the team’s medical staff is still not sold on that idea.

Kershaw, who is scheduled for a bullpen session Monday, has not let there be any dispute about what he wants, privately at least. The left-hander wants to pitch for the Dodgers in his next outing, although he has been more diplomatic publicly. Behind the closed training-room doors, he has been lobbying to be activated from the disabled list, where he landed due to inflammation in his back after his Opening Day start in Australia last month.

When asked Friday night where he would like his next start to come, Kershaw said, “I’m not sure what I want to do or the team wants to do or if they align or anything like that. I’m not planning on any confusion, though.”

That is typical Kershaw, never rocking the boat. But Mattingly is clear on what his ace wants.

“I am,” Mattingly said when half-jokingly asked if he was sure he still wanted Kershaw to make a second rehab start. “I know the medical [staff] is, but I’m not sure Kersh is buying into that. There’s been a small debate going on, but I don’t want him to be part of that debate.”

The next question was how hard Kershaw was pushing to make his next start be for the Dodgers.

“We’ll see,” Mattingly said, also noting that he would stay out of the decision and debate.

The Dodgers travel to Minnesota ahead of a series beginning Tuesday against the Twins, with Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Josh Beckett scheduled to start those three games.

But if Kershaw is healthy, many Dodgers fans might be wondering why the team would let him throw another rehab start as opposed to letting him give the Dodgers five innings at some point next week. Some reporters had the same curiosities, and Mattingly’s answers to those inquiries, which lacked a definitive “no,” made it seem as if Kershaw being activated after the Minnesota series is still very much in play.

“We’ll talk about it,” Mattingly said. “We’ll see how this pen goes and go from there.”