Clayton Kershaw threw off a mound for the first time since his back injury

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Clayton Kershaw took the mound yesterday for the first time since being placed on the disabled list with an inflamed back muscle, throwing a 15-pitch bullpen session.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Kershaw threw only fastballs and “was throwing at less than maximum effort.” But at least it’s progress.

There’s still no timetable for Kershaw’s return to the Dodgers’ rotation and manager Don Mattingly told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that the team’s training staff has instructed the two-time Cy Young winner to keep his velocity low in throwing sessions in an effort to avoid a setback with his specific injury.

Once he’s cleared for game action he’ll need to go out on a minor-league rehab assignment, so Kershaw is still several weeks away from potentially coming off the disabled list.

Reds sign outfielders Mason Williams and Rosell Herrera to minor league deals

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The Reds picked up outfielders Mason Williams and Rosell Herrera on minor league deals, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Both Williams and Herrera will receive invites to spring training and could compete for backup outfield roles behind Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton and Scott Schebler.

Williams, 26, completed a three-year track with the Yankees in 2017. He has yet to see a full season of playing time, however, and went 4-for-17 with two stolen bases during a five-game span with the club in 2017. While not a power hitter, his speed and steady contact rate produced a .263/.309/.318 batting line over 437 plate appearances in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, including two home runs, three triples and 19 stolen bases.

Herrera, 25, has yet to make his big league debut. After seven years in the Rockies’ system, he finally reached Triple-A Albuquerque in 2017 and slashed .278/.351/.394 with three home runs and 20 stolen bases in 363 PA. He looks most comfortable in the left field corner, but has some experience at shortstop and third base and should give the Reds a nice utility option come spring.