GLENDALE, Ariz. –--Dodgers Clayton Kershaw and Corey Seager took forward steps on Friday in their goal to be ready for Opening Day.
Kershaw, for the second consecutive day, played another five-minute game of catch, this time throwing a little firmer than on Thursday, which was a little firmer than it was on Monday. He has been a target of concern since last week, when he complained of shoulder discomfort after a bullpen session and live batting practice session.
“Clayton said he let it go about 80 percent and he felt good, he felt strong,” said manager Dave Roberts. “Tomorrow we’re going to stretch him out some more as far as length and intensity. In talking to him today, we’re pretty encouraged.”
Seager, returning after elbow and hip operations, played in his first game action on Friday. Granted, it was a Minor League camp game and he served as designated hitter. But he also worked out and stretched his throws to 150 feet, one day after throwing from deep in the hole at shortstop with no apparent ill effects.
“Corey had a good day today,” said Roberts. “He threw out to 150 feet and really let it go, first time on a line. Corey was excited about that. He ran the bases, he took four at-bats and felt good in the batter’s box. Obviously, the timing is not synched up, but for him to go through the progression of playing a game, it was a good day for Corey. It continues to check a box and we continue to move forward.”
There has been no MRI for Kershaw, who had a clean one taken last November, when he signed a three-year, $93 million contract that kept him off the free-agent market. He hasn’t spoken to the media about his condition in a week.
Kershaw was named the Opening Day starter by Roberts before the shoulder issue arose. If he can’t take the ball, the presumed next in line is Walker Buehler.
However, Buehler has been “slow-played” this spring, Roberts has explained, after last year’s spike in innings pitched and short offseason after the World Series. Officials insist he is not injured.
“We do expect him to be ready for the start of the season,” said Roberts.
Buehler has thrown only one bullpen session the first week of camp. Since then, he’s been throwing on flat ground. Roberts said Buehler will throw the first of two bullpen sessions next week, then will pitch live batting practice before appearing in his first spring game the following week.
That will probably leave Buehler a maximum of four spring games in which to build up innings with no margin for error to be ready for an Opening Day start, although the club also can turn to veterans Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu or Kenta Maeda if Kershaw doesn’t start.