The surge of rumors regarding Bryce Harper possibly signing with the Dodgers hasn’t overshadowed Clayton Kershaw this Spring Training.
After reports of the 30-year-old not “feeling great” follow two bullpen sessions and a live BP session last week, Kershaw did not participate in workouts.
Yesterday during Spring Training workouts at Camelback Ranch, Kershaw reiterated the same concern after playing catch.
Dave Roberts said Clayton Kershaw “didn’t feel great” after playing catch today.
“Might be a day or two before he picks it up again,” Roberts said.
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) February 25, 2019
Although the shoulder issue has created some concerns outside the clubhouse, it isn’t significant enough for the Dodgers to schedule an MRI for the left-hander.
As of the third Spring Training game, where the Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 11-2, Kershaw is still scheduled to be the Opening Day starter.
Dave Roberts said Kershaw is still his Opening Day starter. #Dodgers
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) February 24, 2019
However, with the flat, abbreviated throwing session on Monday, the plan is being adjusted.
Roberts said he will take a step back, not sure when he will throw again. “It’s not ideal,” Roberts said.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) February 25, 2019
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The shoulder discomfort comes the season after Kershaw was diagnosed with bicep tendonitis and continued to be the victim of lower back discomfort. Last season, Kershaw’s fastball velocity took a deep hit. Since the start of his career, Kershaw was never seen as a flamethrower but the movement of his curveball and slider made him one of the most dominant pitchers in the game.
Before 2018, Kershaw’s fastball was sitting in the 93-94 MPH range. By last October, his fastball was registering at 90 MPH, which was only two miles faster than his slider. His slow fastball was an issue out of the gates with starting the season at 91 MPH. With only one mile differentiating his off-speed pitches from his fastball, the three-time Cy Young winner gave up 17 home runs.
Kershaw is entering the first year of his newly signed three-year contract with the Dodgers for $93 million, with each year worth $31 million.
With a contract like that, there’s no reason to rush the ace back to the mound. The best saving grace of this is the timing — it’s still early enough in camp to shut him down and build him up enough for that ninth straight opening day start.