SAN FRANCISCO -- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw threw a bullpen session Tuesday and showed his best velocity since being injured.
"We're getting close, it feels like," Kershaw said. "I'm sure they [management] have a timetable in mind that they don't want to tell me. I raise the ceiling every day. I don't want to get to the ceiling where I feel pain, but as close to it without being hurt."
Kershaw threw 26 pitches in what he called "somewhat close to a typical bullpen" session at AT&T Park, with manager Don Mattingly and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt watching and athletic trainer Stan Conte monitoring velocity with an app.
Mattingly said Kershaw was clocked in the mid-80s and at one point, the manager stood in as an imaginary batter. Kershaw threw from the windup and the stretch.
"The ball was coming out pretty good," said Mattingly, who nonetheless tried to manage expectations. "We'll continue to be careful. He's slowly moving forward. He's optimistic, we're optimistic, but that doesn't mean there's a timetable. It seems to be going in the right direction. He feels encouraged. It's positive for him, but he still has to be careful."
This was Kershaw's second time off a mound. He said he would spin breaking balls on flat ground Wednesday and probably throw a bullpen session again Thursday.
Kershaw was injured Opening Night in Australia on March 22, suffering a strained teres major muscle, which stabilizes the upper arm with the upper back near the armpit.
He was placed on the 15-day disabled list with no announced time frame for a return, although the injury was expected to sideline him a month or longer. After being shut down for about a week, Kershaw has remained on a throwing program.
Billingsley to have MRI after elbow acts up
SAN FRANCISCO -- Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley, currently on the disabled list, cut short a bullpen session at AT&T Park on Tuesday with discomfort in his repaired right elbow and quickly headed back to Los Angeles for an MRI.
Billingsley made eight pitches before shutting down. It is the second setback he's experienced, the other believed to be a scar tissue "pop" in the second inning of his first Minor League rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga eight days ago.
"Not such good news," said manager Don Mattingly. "After eight pitches he felt something in there, felt if he let it go, something was going on. He'll go back to L.A. and get an MRI and find out."
Billingsley underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction last April and his rehab had gone remarkably smoothly until the scare last weekend.
Jackie Robinson Day resonates with Dodgers
SAN FRANCISCO -- Paul Maholm is one of the newest Dodgers, but he appreciates the franchise's legacy, especially when it comes to Jackie Robinson.
"Obviously he was a pioneer for moving baseball forward," Maholm said before the Dodgers' Tuesday night game with the Giants on Jackie Robinson Day.
"And what he endured in his career, when you look at it, it's amazing how he put everything aside to become an amazing player. And he opened doors for a lot of people to come into baseball."
Manager Don Mattingly said Jackie Robinson Day is a "big day for all of baseball. And I look at it as extra special for this organization because he played for us and is tied so closely to the organization. It's a pretty cool feeling."
Back in Los Angeles, the Dodgers commemorated Jackie Robinson Day at Dodger Stadium with a series of events.
It started with a youth baseball clinic for 120 youngsters from South Los Angeles' Challengers Boys & Girls Club. The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation hosted 30 Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars and alumni.
The Dodgers' game-worn Jackie Robinson Day jerseys will be auctioned at a later date to benefit LADF and the Jackie Robinson Scholars.
Wilson activated off DL; Rodriguez sent down
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Dodgers activated right-handed Brian Wilson off the disabled list Tuesday and optioned left-handed reliever Paco Rodriguez to Triple-A Albuquerque to make room on the roster.
Wilson was put on the DL 15 days ago to rebuild arm strength after rushing to be ready during a compressed Spring Training.
Rodriguez was the odd man out because he had options. He also had a 3.18 ERA in eight appearances this year, rebounding from last year's late-season tailspin after five nearly unhittable months.
"Paco was a professional," said manager Don Mattingly. "I'm sure he's upset with it. The main reason is that Paco's got options at this point. Can't say it's a great reason. But we're going to see Paco again. He was tremendous last year and real good this year. There are a few things he can work on, and the silver lining is we can control his work and put him in tough situations while making sure he's not overused or overworked."
Rodriguez said he understood that he was only one of two Dodgers relievers (Chris Withrow the other) with options and without guaranteed contracts.
"This is just part of it," he said. "I'll just keep doing my thing down there. Oh, I could say they [cheated] me, but I'm going down there and work on getting back up there. I know how everything works. I'll be professional about it. No big deal."
Prospect Pederson stays hot for Albuquerque
Center fielder Joc Pederson, the Dodgers' No. 2 prospect and No. 34 overall, continued his blistering start to the season Tuesday. He went 4-for-4 with two home runs, a double and a walk in Triple-A Albuquerque's 11-6 victory against El Paso.
Pederson improved his slash line to .442/.564/.884 and has five home runs in 12 games this season.
Pederson won't turn 22 until Monday, making him one of the youngest players in the Pacific Coast League. But nearly two weeks into the season, he leads the league in OPS (1.447) and walks (12).
Right-hander Matt Magill, the Dodgers' No. 12 prospect, was the beneficiary of Pederson's latest offensive outburst. Magill allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits in six innings Tuesday. He struck out eight batters and walked one.