Dodgers News: Clayton Kershaw Feeling Healthy, But ‘Behind’ Normal Spring Training Buildup

Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has long made it clear he hopes for Clayton Kershaw to spend his entire career with the franchise, and that moved one step closer to becoming a reality over the weekend.

Kershaw and the Dodgers agreed to a one-year contract for the 2022 season that reportedly is worth $17 million and includes incentives. Kershaw’s salary last year — as part of contract extension signed after the 2018 season — was $31 million.

The 33-year-old went into the offseason facing some injury concern as he was unable to pitch in the playoffs due to a left flexor tendon strain. It marked a second time last year Kershaw suffered from that injury.

According to Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times, Kershaw is not yet at his usual Spring Training progression:

Kershaw told The Athletic’s Andy McCullough on Friday he is healthy but behind where he typically would be this time of year.

While a flexor tendon injury often is a precursor for Tommy John surgery, Kershaw and the Dodgers maintained his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) remained intact.

He treated the injury with a platelet-rich plasma injection (PRP) injection and was confident time off would also allow for a full recovery. “I’m going to rest and let it heal. I’m not going to get surgery on it or anything,” Kershaw said during the National League Division Series.

“Everybody I’ve talked to, all the doctors and everything, feel good that I’ll be good to go by Spring Training, so that’s the plan.”

In his first comments since re-signing, Kershaw reiterated he is in good health even if it required an unusual offseason.

“I feel 100% health-wise. It’s just I didn’t pick up a ball for a long time,” he said. “I didn’t pick up a ball until January 1, and I haven’t done that in a long, long time. Wasn’t really sure how it was going to react, but thankful I feel great now.

“I’m throwing live [Monday] so it will be a good assessment to see where I’m at and keep progressing from there.”

Where Kershaw fits into Dodgers starting rotation

Once the unquestioned ace of the staff, Kershaw now figures to be the Dodgers’ No. 3 starter, behind Walker Buehler and Julio Urias.

He is still plenty effective when healthy, and went 10-8 with a 3.55 ERA, 3.00 FIP and 1.02 WHIP over 22 starts.

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