The Los Angeles Dodgers faced an unfamiliar reality last season when a bulging disc forced Clayton Kershaw to the disabled list. It marked just the second DL stint of Kershaw’s eight-year career.
There was early optimism the left-handed ace would make a quick return. However, a setback eliminated that possibility, and Kershaw was eventually transferred to the 60-day DL. He missed a total of 10 weeks, returning for the final month of the regular season.
The injury called for minor adjustments in Kershaw’s offseason workouts, which he’s carried into Spring Training and will continue to abide by. The 28-year-old heads into the season solely focused on 2017, even if it comes at a cost down the road in his career, via SportsNet LA:
“I’m not a big future guy. I just want to pitch this year, make every start. I’ll do whatever I have to do to make that next start. I’ll worry about the next years when I need to. If it costs me somewhere down the road, it does. I’m here to make every start this year. I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to do.”
Kershaw, who reported to Camelback Ranch in good health, added his focus is on making 32 starts this season. Last year’s 21 starts matched a career low, set as a rookie during 2008. Kershaw’s 149 innings pitched were the second-lowest total of his career.
At the time of being placed on the disabled list last July, Kershaw was 11-2 and led the Majors in ERA (1.79), complete games (three), complete-game shutouts (three), innings pitched (121) and strikeouts (145), among other categories.
In addition, Kershaw’s 16-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio was on pace to shatter Phil Hughes’ MLB record of 11.63, set with the Minnesota Twins in 2014.