GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Clayton Kershaw will begin the season on the injured list, according to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
“I don’t see that happening,” Roberts said of Kershaw being on the season-opening roster. “If he were on the Opening Day roster, he would be starting. So to think that he would carry a spot, obviously there’s a back-date component.”
Kershaw hasn’t thrown a competitive pitch this spring. His training was set back for three weeks by a sore shoulder. On Wednesday, he’s scheduled to face hitters and he might be able to make his game debut this weekend, but he won’t be sufficiently built up for a Major League start the first week of the season.
Kershaw could pitch in a spring game on Saturday (the Dodgers’ last game in Arizona), then go on the injured list and be eligible to return by April 4, as long as he doesn’t pitch in the Freeway Series. This will be the fourth consecutive season Kershaw has missed time with an injury.
Roberts has not announced a replacement for Kershaw to make the Opening Day start, but the way the rotation is currently set up, the most likely candidates are Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill, in that order. On Monday, Roberts ruled Walker Buehler out of the Opening Day start because, like Kershaw, he isn’t built up enough yet to start because of a spring shoulder injury.
Ryu’s spot was juggled this week behind Kenta Maeda and ahead of Hill. Maeda will pitch in a Minor League game on Wednesday, Ryu will start on Thursday and Hill on Friday. If they remain in that order, Ryu could start Opening Day on six days of rest, followed by Hill on six days' rest, Ross Stripling on five days' rest, Buehler on five days' rest and Maeda on five days' rest.
“They’re all good candidates, but we’re not ready to make that decision yet,” Roberts said when asked about an Opening Day starter. “The scheduling makes the most sense as far as where they’re at and how they’re aligned. Without Clayton, you have to reshuffle guys. And understanding that after the first turn there’s an off-day that we might feel somebody would benefit from. Game 1 and 2 starters won’t necessarily need that.”
Roberts referred to the April 4 day off. The club almost certainly wants to give Buehler an extra day off, so he wouldn’t start Games 1 or 2.
Corey Seager is scheduled to make his spring Major League game debut on Wednesday night, playing seven innings. It will be his first game with teammates since undergoing elbow and hip operations.
Reliever Yimi Garcia, away for two days to attend to a family matter in the Dominican Republic, returned to camp on Tuesday.
In Tuesday night’s game, Buehler made his spring debut and the Dodgers got solo homers from A.J. Pollock and Russell Martin, but they lost to the Indians, 4-2. JT Chargois, competing for one of the last bullpen spots, allowed a two-run homer to pinch-hitter Eric Haase. Non-roster infielder Daniel Castro continued his hot spring with two more hits.
Julio Urias starts for the Dodgers on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. PT against the Cubs and Cole Hamels in Mesa. Also scheduled to pitch are Joe Kelly, Dustin May and Stetson Allie. Back at Camelback Ranch, Maeda will pitch five innings in a Minor League game.