Matt Kemp’s sprained left ankle is still an issue

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Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp has batted .314 with an .870 OPS in 39 plate appearances since returning from his severe left ankle sprain on September 16. But that ankle injury still lingers.

Kemp was scratched from the Dodgers’ starting lineup on Saturday night against the Rockies with what is being termed an ankle flareup and manager Don Mattingly acknowledged in his postgame chat that the 29-year-old is nowhere near 100 percent. “I don’t think he’s running full speed,” Mattingly said. “We’re not going to get the 40-[steals] type guy. That’s just not there, I don’t think, at this point from what we’ve been through with the ankle and the hammy and all that. We’re not going to be that. But we’re still pretty good. He shows he can do a lot of things.”

“It’s just irritated. Nothing crazy,” Kemp told MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. “I played the last six games and it got a little sore. … I couldn’t get loose and decided not to play today. Sprained ankles are tricky sometimes.”

Andre Ethier (ankle, shin) and Yasiel Puig (leg) are also hobbled heading into Sunday’s Game 162. But the good news for the National League West-champion Dodgers is that the NLDS won’t begin until Thursday.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.