Hours before Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to make a ninth career start on Opening Day, the Los Angeles Dodgers instead placed him on the 10-day injured list due to back stiffness.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts explained it was a result of working out, largely downplayed the level of concern but didn’t offer a timeline on a potential return. Roberts did indicate Kershaw was in good spirts, which he took as a positive sign.
That was evident when the longtime Dodgers ace spoke with media before Friday’s game. “I feel better. Obviously, the timing couldn’t have been worse. Working all that time to try and stay ready, I really felt so good going into the season,” Kershaw said.
“It was pretty defeating, honestly. Just like, ‘How is this happening right now?’ Kind of started moving forward [Thursday] and [Friday], made a lot of progress. It’s not too serious. It’s getting better pretty quick. I’m optimistic it shouldn’t be much longer than my original stint on the IL.”
The Dodgers backdated the IL stint, which leaves Kershaw eligible to return during next weekend’s road series with the Arizona Diamondbacks. His spot in the rotation first comes up Wednesday, which Dustin May is again filling.
Kershaw threw out to 90 feet on Friday and added to that distance the following day. Every indication has been a routine workout he’s done for multiple years didn’t lend to any significant injury. That was further supported by an MRI not revealing any damage.
“When you get a clean MRI, you’re thankful there’s nothing structurally wrong. After that, to me, it’s try to get going,” Kershaw said. “You try to get going, make things loosen up, start rehabbing, try moving around. That’s what I’ve been doing. Once again, no timeline, but I feel pretty optimistic. Everything that it could’ve been, I feel thankful it’s not super serious.”
Kershaw’s back injury history
Back trouble first cropped up for Kershaw in 2014, when he was placed on the IL the day of his second start of the season because of a teres major strain. He had previously taken the mound for Opening Day, which was in Australia. That left Kershaw aligned to start the Dodgers’ first game back stateside — at Petco Park.
In 2016, he suffered a herniated disc, and in 2017 and 2018 dealt with a lower back strain. “I don’t really remember each specific time, other than when I really hurt it in 2016,” Kershaw said when asked to compare the pain level with his current ailment to previous back injuries.
“That’s the only one I truly remember being in some serious, serious pain. Obviously there’s been some things connected as far as why it’s happening, but back pain is kind of one of those things that you deal with and do the best you can.
“Sometimes things crop up, but I feel like I’ve been fortunate the last couple years. For whatever reason it went on Tuesday. Like I said, not super serious. Thankful I should be back pretty quick.”
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