Days after Clayton Kershaw was penciled in to start a ninth consecutive Opening Day game for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the left-handed ace had Spring Training interrupted by inflammation in his throwing shoulder.
Kershaw was shut down for several days and limited to receiving treatment while anti-inflammatory medication was given an opportunity to take effect. His initial attempt to resume playing catch did not go well, but Kershaw rebounded two days later.
That set the wheels in motion for a throwing program that’s seen Kershaw steadily increase the intensity and distance he played catch at, followed by multiple bullpen sessions; the latest of which came Sunday.
It marked the first time Kershaw unleashed his entire arsenal of pitches since first experiencing the shoulder trouble. He’s now scheduled to throw live batting practice, which Kershaw hopes comes Wednesday.
In the event it doesn’t, however, Kershaw is still content with his progress on the roadmap the Dodgers have laid out, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“That would be my hope. Other people have other opinions, but that would be my hope,” Kershaw said. “It’s always a bit of a healthy argument, but it’s been good. We have a good plan, and just the next step.”
While the deck is stacked against him, Kershaw has not been ruled out from extending his franchise record to a ninth consecutive Opening Day start. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts conceded the odds aren’t in favor of that still holding true, but said he is open to a ‘non-traditional’ start.
Whether a 2019 debut comes Opening Day or during the first week of the season, Kershaw may be in line for a shortened start anyhow. He’s not yet appeared in a Cactus League game, and would only have time to squeeze in one exhibition start before the regular season begins.