Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw 'excited' to pitch in simulated game

LOS ANGELES - Clayton Kershaw will face hitters Tuesday as he sets his sights on returning to the Los Angeles Dodgers in September.

The team's staff ace had a 60-pitch bullpen session Friday at Dodger Stadium and is expected to square off against Dodgers minor leaguers in a simulated game either in Los Angeles or at the team's complex in Arizona while the rest of the club is in Colorado for a three-game series.

"Yeah I'm excited," Kershaw said. "The next step is to face hitters so I'm excited to do that for sure."

The Dodgers have not released a timetable of when Kershaw might return to the majors, but after the simulated game, he is expected to pitch in a game setting before he comes back. Complicating that plan, though, is that the minor league seasons at the Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A levels end Sept. 5.

Kershaw is intent on pitching again this season, but has given no guarantees he will be back in time to finish the regular season.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner last pitched in a major league game on June 26 at Pittsburgh. After that outing, a mild disk herniation emerged. He pitched in a simulated game on July 16, but a setback that day caused him to restart the recovery process.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts remained vague when asked about Kershaw's return.