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Dodgers News: Clayton Kershaw Considered ‘Unlikely’ But Not Ruled Out For Opening Day Start; Rich Hill Among Candidates To Fill In

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With Clayton Kershaw still leading the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation, the expectation when Spring Training began was he would be named the starter for Opening Day of the 2019 season. By doing so, Kershaw would extend his franchise record to nine consecutive starts in a season opener.

After initially being somewhat coy on the topic, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed the club’s intention of sending Kershaw to the mound on March 28 when they host the Arizona Diamondbacks. But days later, the Dodgers’ ace became dogged by shoulder inflammation.

Kershaw was shut down for several days and prescribed anti-inflammatory medication. He then began playing catch and steadily increasing the distance and velocity. Kershaw recently threw his first bullpen session since Feb. 20, and followed that with another.

Though, he’s been limited to fastballs in both sessions. The interrupted throwing program left him with long odds to take the ball on Opening Day as it’s less than two weeks away.

The Dodgers have not fully ruled out the possibility but Roberts conceded Kershaw likely won’t be in position to make the start, and therefore Rich Hill is among the candidates being considered, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:

Hill is furtherest along amongst the starters in terms of being stretched out thus far, though Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda are not far behind. Moreover, Ryu’s regular turn through the rotation aligns with starting March 28 on regular rest.

Kershaw is expected to throw another bullpen session, which will include the left-hander expanding to getting over his entire arsenal of pitches. Assuming he continues to move ahead without setbacks, live batting practice and a start in a Cactus League game would follow.