GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Manager Dave Roberts all but conceded on Monday that Clayton Kershaw won’t be ready to start Opening Day for the Dodgers.
“That’s fair,” Roberts said, when asked if the 24 days between now and March 28, plus the left shoulder injury that has kept Kershaw off a mound, equals a likely change in plans.
“The main thing is he’s trending in the right direction, and when he’s game ready is when he’s game ready,” said Roberts.
But Roberts insisted Kershaw is making steady progress in his recovery from inflammation. He played catch again on Monday, throwing firmer by the day as anti-inflammatory medication appears to be doing its job.
“I didn’t see him throw, but I talked to him when he came off the field and he was pretty excited," said Roberts. “He was a little bit more than encouraged. He was excited, so that was good thing for us.”
Roberts said Kershaw would throw again on Tuesday, when the rest of the club takes a scheduled day off.
Roberts also said the Dodgers are comfortable they have starting-pitching depth to get by until ‘“whenever” Kershaw is ready.
Walker Buehler, Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling are the likely starting five. Julio Urias is good enough to be among them, but management is determined to tamp down his innings so there will be bullets left for August, September and October.
“The No. 1 thing is for Clayton to be ready and confident mentally and physically,” Roberts said. “There’s just way too much importance on the Opening Day roster.”