Kershaw 'encouraged' by live BP, talks Freeman

March 15th, 2022

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- For the first time since suffering a forearm injury on Oct. 1 that ended his season, Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw faced live hitters on Monday at Camelback Ranch.

Kershaw, who officially signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers on Sunday, took the mound in live batting practice against Mookie Betts, Justin Turner and AJ Pollock. The left-hander threw 15 pitches, utilizing his entire mix. He threw a second inning in the bullpen.

“I was really encouraged by today,” Kershaw said. “I felt like everything came out as good as it can for the first time. Hadn’t faced hitters, hadn’t thrown off a dirt mound yet -- to do all that stuff and come away feeling good and feel my stuff was in a decent spot was encouraging.”

There was a large group watching Kershaw on the mound on Monday. The veteran admitted he was between the Dodgers and Rangers in free agency, so there was a sense of relief to see Kershaw back with Los Angeles.

The Dodgers also understand the reality that their best chance at winning a World Series title is to have a healthy Kershaw anchoring a rotation that comes into Spring Training with some question marks.

Walker Buehler and Julio Urías have taken the next step, establishing themselves as two of the best starters in the National League. Kershaw’s presence would give the Dodgers a quality three-headed monster. But behind that, the Dodgers are counting on rebound seasons from left-hander Andrew Heaney and right-hander Tony Gonsolin, who also faced hitters on Monday.

For now, though, all eyes remain on Kershaw. He said he fully expects to bounce back on Tuesday and not feel any discomfort. That’s good news for the Dodgers.

Freeman watch continues
Just minutes before 11 a.m. MST, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Brandon Gomes walked out onto the field for L.A.’s first camp workout of the spring. They huddled with other members of the organization, including Kershaw and manager Dave Roberts.

Minutes later, news broke that the Braves had completed a trade to acquire first baseman Matt Olson from the A’s. The move was particularly notable for the Dodgers, as it takes the Braves out of the running to re-sign their star first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Soon after the news was public, word started trickling in among Dodger players.

“Obviously, it leaves Freddie kind of out there for us,” Kershaw said. “I don’t know. I feel great about our team the way it is now. I feel like we have a real chance to win with the guys in this clubhouse. With that said, Freddie’s a really good baseball player.”

The Dodgers remain one of the teams pursuing Freeman. The Yankees, Rays and Blue Jays are the other clubs heavily linked to the first baseman.

Seager at Rangers camp
On Monday, former Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager took the field with the Rangers for the first time since signing a 10-year, $325 million deal this offseason. Seager, who was in the Dodgers’ organization since 2012, said it has finally hit him that he’s no longer in Los Angeles.

Seager attended Justin Turner’s charity golf tournament this offseason, giving him a chance to spend time with a lot of his former teammates. He admitted that being around them was “a little” weird, but added that he’ll always be in communication with the group he won a World Series with.

“I made a lot of great friends over there and a lot of guys that it wasn’t just baseball,” Seager said. “You become family-oriented. It’s always great to support those guys and you’ll always be there for them.”

Around the horn

• The Dodgers announced on Monday that the Sandy Koufax statue will be unveiled in the Centerfield Plaza prior to the club’s June 18 game against the Guardians at 4:15 p.m. PT.

Koufax’s statue will be the second one installed by the club. Jackie Robinson got the first honor on April 15, 2017. The first 40,000 ticketed fans in attendance for the game will receive a replica Koufax statue, according to the club.

• Roberts said he isn’t closing the door on a reunion with closer Kenley Jansen, who remains an unrestricted free agent. Jansen is the Dodgers’ all-time saves leader with 350 saves. Following a strong 2021 season, Jansen could be in line for another big payday.

“I think our guys are talking to him,” Roberts said. “He’s gonna ultimately make a decision that’s best for him and [his wife] Gianni. I’m always open to welcoming him back.”

• Adrián González, Eric Karros, Jessica Mendoza, José Mota and Dontrelle Willis have been added to serve various roles on the SportsNet LA broadcast and studio teams, the AM 570 LA Sports radio broadcast and the Spanish broadcast on KTNQ 1020 AM.

The five will join the current broadcast lineup of Hall of Famer Jaime Jarrín, Joe Davis, Orel Hershiser, Fernando Valenzuela, Charley Steiner, Rick Monday, Nomar Garciaparra, Pepe Yñiguez, Jerry Hairston Jr., John Hartung, Tim Neverett and Kirsten Watson.