As Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers and position players have moved along with preparation during Spring Training, Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler — two pillars of the pitching staff — have lagged behind.
In the case of Buehler, the Dodgers have exercised caution as he’s coming off a career-high 176 innings pitched (Minors and postseason included). Buehler threw just his second bullpen session of Spring Training on Sunday, yet the expectation remains he will be ready by Opening Day.
The club has said the same holds true for Kershaw, who went several days between any sort of throwing because of inflammation in his left shoulder. Kershaw began to feel the discomfort after throwing live batting practice and a bullpen session.
He played catch over the past few days and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Kershaw was set to build on that Sunday, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“Kershaw is going to play catch today, stretch it out, ramp up the intensity. He feels good,” said Roberts. “Ever since last Monday, with some of the rest we’ve built in, he’s in a good place.”
Meanwhile, Kershaw offered a minimal but optimistic update on his status after playing catch with other pitchers rather than being limited to a workout with Dodgers strength and conditioning coach Brandon McDaniel:
“Just keep progressing,” Kershaw said.
Assuming the 30-year-old avoids any sort of setback, he will continue advancing toward throwing a bullpen session and more live BP. Clearing those checkpoints would pave the way for Kershaw eventually making his 2019 Cactus League debut.
Though the Dodgers have maintained their ace extending his franchise record by making a ninth consecutive Opening Day start, the timeline is against that becoming a reality.