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.

Report: Padres interested in Maikel Franco

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The Padres may have some interest in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems unlikely that the team would deal their starting third baseman with J.P. Crawford (fractured left hand) sidelined through July; to that end, however, they signed infielder Danny Espinosa as minor league depth on Friday and have reportedly been eying the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, among other veteran options.

Franco, 25, entered Sunday batting .255/.297/.425 with nine home runs and a .721 OPS in 229 plate appearances this season. While he has yet to live up to the .280+ average, 1.9+ fWAR he posted during his rookie campaign, he’s been a solid 20+ home run producer over the last few years and shown some stability at the hot corner. He’s also under team control for the next three years and could provide some much-needed insurance behind the Padres’ current third base option, 27-year-old Christian Villanueva.

Rosenthal notes that the Phillies could strike a deal for one of San Diego’s relievers, though no one specific has been connected to the team yet — and the club probably wouldn’t be able to finesse a one-for-one deal given the quality of the Padres’ pitchers. The Phillies’ bullpen has looked downright abysmal over the last month, placing 11th-worst in the league with a collective 5.34 ERA and 0.3 fWAR. Their failure to procure a viable reliever beyond Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos lends a certain urgency to any potential deal they make over the next few weeks, though the official trade deadline is still over a month away.