Clayton Kershaw set for 60-pitch simulated game

PHOENIX -- For those who struggle with confined or crowded spaces, the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation is about to become a high-anxiety zone.

Both Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood are scheduled to throw 60-pitch simulated games at Dodger Stadium on Saturday against hitters who will be called in from Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. That means both could return from the disabled list soon, although Kershaw figures to be back sooner since the Dodgers don’t think the staff ace will need a minor league rehab assignment.

“I just think that for him, to see live hitters, he hasn’t been gone that long, and I think that for him, if the arm strength is still there, which we assume it is and Clayton has confirmed with us, then there is really no need to go on an assignment,” manager Dave Roberts said.

Wood will most definitely pitch in minor league games before he returns and could be on the same timetable for move back into the rotation as Brett Anderson, who has been out all season after undergoing a back procedure during spring training. Anderson’s simulated game likely will take place Tuesday.

Kershaw’s return from a mild disc herniation in his lower back is the most anticipated, of course, and it could happen as early as this road trip, either in Washington next week or St. Louis next weekend.

The Dodgers do not figure to move Kenta Maeda or Scott Kazmir out of the rotation, so to make space, it figures to be either Bud Norris, Brandon McCarthy or Hyun-Jin Ryu who is on the outside looking in.

“I don’t foresee a six-man rotation for any extensive period of time, so we’ll make that decision when the time comes,” Roberts said.

The next challenge will be figuring out how to squeeze Wood and Anderson back into the mix. If Roberts isn’t going to go with a six-man rotation, he certainly won’t go with an eight-man look.

“Every day is a test,” Roberts said. “Every day is an evaluation.”