CINCINNATI -- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw missed his teammates so much that he flew from Los Angeles to Cincinnati just to work out with them.
The injured left-hander threw on flat ground Friday before their game against the Reds, the last step before he throws off a mound in the bullpen for the first time in more than a month.
"I feel good so far," said Kershaw, who has been sidelined since June 26 with a herniated disk. "It's a one-step-at-a-time thing. I throw a bullpen tomorrow. That's another step. I've been throwing for the last week and a half, and I haven't had any problems."
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was as happy to see Kershaw as Kershaw was to be with the team.
"He's in good spirits," Roberts said. "Part of it is because he's healthy and part of it is getting back with his teammates and getting reacquainted."
The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner and 2014 Most Valuable Player is expected to pitch off a mound on Saturday for the first time since throwing in a simulated game on July 16. That step followed an aggressive rehab program and aggravated his symptoms, leading to a complete shutdown.
Kershaw, who was 11-2 with a 1.79 ERA when he was injured, is optimistic he'll have better results this time.
"We got to the point the last time where I was throwing off the mound," he said. "This time, I've done everything I need to do. We gave it a shot the first time, and we were pretty aggressive. There were no signs that it would backfire, but it did. This time, we've been more conservative."
Roberts expects Kershaw to throw 20-25 pitches on Saturday and, if all goes well, 40 in another bullpen session in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Kershaw was asked why he decided to rejoin his teammates in Cincinnati.
"Skyline Chili," he said, smiling, mentioning a local delicacy. "It's fun to be on the road with the guys. It's no fun watching on TV. I like being on the road."