ARI@LAD: Kershaw pitches in a simulated game

LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw threw at "full effort" in a three-inning simulated game on Sunday, and he "assumes" a Minor League rehab assignment is next.

"He looked good to me," said Drew Butera, who joined teammate Chone Figgins in hitting against Kershaw, who made 50 pitches.

Kershaw's workout was witnessed by manager Don Mattingly, team surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache and head trainer Stan Conte. Kershaw's fastball topped out at 90 mph.

"Obviously, good," said Mattingly. "It sounded like he could do whatever today. We'll see how he comes out of it tomorrow." Mattingly again declined to offer a target date for Kershaw's return, or even the rehab assignment. But taking Sunday as a game day, Kershaw would be in line for a bullpen session on Tuesday and a start on Friday. That would make a following start on April 30 in either the Minor Leagues or Major Leagues.

"We need him to be healthy and compete," Mattingly said. "It's not about going seven innings. If he throws four innings, we've got to cover five with the bullpen. I think we want him built up to the point to compete."

A.J. Ellis, who caught Kershaw 12 days after undergoing knee surgery, said the National League Cy Young Award winner threw all of his pitches and took the workout so seriously that he shook off his catcher.

"He wanted it to be as game-like as possible, and he's always second-guessing me," Ellis joked. "He looked great. He warmed up comparable to a regular start. Velocity was very comparable."

Kershaw said he assumes a Minor League start is next, as long as he comes out of this with no setback.

"This was full-effort for me," he said. "You can't simulate the adrenaline of a big league game. But as far as 10 a.m. sim game, that's all I got."

Kershaw said the soreness and stiffness from the teres major muscle strain in his back that put him on the disabled list after his Opening Night start in Australia "is gone, and now it's just building back up" arm strength.

"He threw the ball real good," said Figgins. "His fastball had life and his curveball was sharp. He threw me a good backdoor slider and threw Butera some changeups. It looked like everything was coming out good."

Ellis continues rapid rehab by catching Kershaw

A.J. Ellis to miss a month or more after knee surgery

LOS ANGELES -- The surprise in Sunday's simulated game wasn't that Clayton Kershaw pitched three innings without pain, but that A.J. Ellis caught three innings without pain.

Ellis is only 12 days removed from left knee surgery, but he said he "lobbied" to warm up Kershaw in the bullpen and then "lobbied" to catch the simulated game and kept catching for all 50 pitches.

"We've been plenty surprised every step of the way," Ellis said of his rapid rehab.

Ellis has backed off only with running, which is how he injured the knee two weeks ago. He also hasn't thrown to bases coming out of the crouch.

"The final hurdles," he said. "But as far as [other] baseball stuff, I feel 100 percent. Squatting never bothered me before. Just running, you know, my explosiveness."

The original estimate on Ellis's rehab was four to six weeks.

"I hope four is on the high side, the way I feel," he said. "Maybe I'll get out [on a Minor League rehab assignment] sometime soon."

LA looking to eliminate same defensive miscues

ARI@LAD: Hanley leaps to make a great grab at short

LOS ANGELES -- The Washington Nationals, with 20 errors, are the only team in the National League having committed more miscues than the Dodgers' 19.

Manager Don Mattingly on Sunday was asked if he's concerned about his club's defense.

"We want to continue to improve, to be consistent," Mattingly said. "We don't want to see the same mistakes over and over."

Five of the errors are charged to shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who committed 13 last year in 86 games, or a pace of 24 for a 162-game season. His current pace for a 162-game season is 47. Of equal concern is Ramirez's limited range and hesitancy when gripping the ball.

"He's been fine, working good," Mattingly said in defense of Ramirez's fielding. "Guys are what they are, whatever that is. It's not like we're not getting effort."