Coming off another season in which he twice was forced to the disabled list, Clayton Kershaw spoke of being motivated to prove critics wrong after signing a three-year, $93 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He threw a bullpen session upon reporting for Spring Training — one day prior to pitchers and catchers holding their first official workout at Camelback Ranch. But Kershaw then encountered some trouble after throwing live batting practice and another bullpen.
Frustrated, he was excused from a workout and though he returned the following day, it was without any plans to continue throwing. It later became known Kershaw was dealing with inflammation in his left shoulder.
He was prescribed anti-inflammatory medication but an initial attempt to resume playing catch did not go well. After a few more days of rest, he test the shoulder with another round of catch and reported positive results.
Kershaw has steadily built up from that point, increasing his intensity and distance with each session. He then advanced to throwing off the mound for the first time since the initial trouble surfaced near the end of February, completing multiple bullpen sessions.
Wednesday saw Kershaw face live batters for only the second time this spring and first since being shut down. According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the one inning of work (batters only tracked pitches) went well and Kershaw will face hitters again on Monday:
Dave Roberts said Kershaw felt good and was positive after his session. Will pitch two innings in another batting practice session in five days.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) March 20, 2019
Although Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had maintained Kershaw was still a candidate to make a ninth consecutive start on Opening Day, he recently ruled the left-hander out. Not only that, but Kershaw is due to begin the season on the 10-day injured list.
By not planning to pitch him in the exhibition Freeway Series, the Dodgers can backdate the stint for up to three days before the season begins (March 28), which would allow for a bit of an expedited return and possibly help minimize the total number of games missed.
Though, the club has not given any indication when Kershaw could be activated. Considering he won’t remain in Arizona, he presumably will go on a rehab assignment prior to joining the rotation.