Clayton Kershaw on target to return

Two-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw cleared what the Los Angeles Dodgers said was his final hurdle, pitching five strong innings in his second minor league rehab start Wednesday night in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Kershaw appears to be on target to rejoin the Dodgers' rotation in Washington next week, perhaps as early as Monday.

He hasn't pitched in the majors since his March 22 Opening Day start in Australia, when he injured the teres major muscle near his left shoulder.

Kershaw struck out nine batters Wednesday while pitching for the Dodgers' Double-A affiliate in Chattanooga, allowing two runs, just one of which was earned, while throwing 86 pitches and walking two batters. Kershaw gave up six hits and had to work a bit harder because his team made three errors behind him.

In his first rehab start, for Class A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday, Kershaw threw 56 pitches over five strong innings. The day after, Kershaw fought the Dodgers on making the second rehab start but lost the argument. The team thought he needed one more start to build up his arm strength before he returned from the 15-day disabled list.

"That's kind of the hard part, going to pitch another [rehab] game and I feel healthy," Kershaw said at the time.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told reporters his ace would return to the rotation once he had thrown as many as 80 pitches in the minors, so it looks like he'll join the Dodgers this weekend in Miami in anticipation of pitching in the Washington series that follows. In both his minor league starts, Kershaw's fastball was in the 89 to 93 mph range, per the stadium radar guns.