Kershaw's return from injury pushed back after MRI

July 14th, 2023

NEW YORK -- When landed on the 15-day injured list a few weeks ago with left shoulder inflammation, the Dodgers were adamant that they expected their ace to return by the time he was eligible on July 15 against the Mets.

But after getting an MRI before the All-Star break, Kershaw and the Dodgers were advised by Dr. Neal ElAttrache to be more patient with the injury. That patience will now knock Kershaw out for at least two weeks.

“It’s the weirdest thing," Kershaw said. "I feel completely fine. The shoulder feels good. I’ve just been told it has to rest. It’s a weird deal. I’ve never had anything like it, to the point where, like I’m gonna go play catch [Friday] and throw it as hard as I can, and they say it needs to rest. It’s just weird, honestly. I don’t know what to make of it. But I’m just gonna have to listen to them.”

After his last start on June 27 in Colorado, Kershaw underwent an ultrasound that revealed some inflammation. He took a cortisone shot and was told to not pick up a baseball for a few days. Initially, Kershaw was confident he didn’t need a stint on the IL. He even tried to convince the Dodgers that he could make one more start the weekend before the All-Star break.

Instead, Kershaw went through an MRI with the Dodgers’ top doctor weighing in. That brought up the question: Despite Kershaw saying he doesn’t feel discomfort, did something worsen over the last few weeks?

“I think once we got the scan and saw the report, the thought was to get an injection and then take some time,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I think that’s sort of where it played out where we are right now as far as how much longer it is taking than originally expected.”

While Roberts initially said the Dodgers are hopeful Kershaw will return towards the beginning of August, he also added that they don’t want to put a firm timetable on the left-hander’s return. Given how inconsistent those have been, it remains to be seen how long Kershaw will be out.

“I think Clayton is doing everything he can to adhere to the doctor's orders and when he's ready to pitch, he'll pitch,” Roberts said. “That's why it's hard to give that exact time period. It's just no one knows."

With Kershaw sidelined for at least a few more weeks instead of returning this weekend, the Dodgers’ starting rotation takes another significant hit. In his absence, they’ll continue to lean on Julio Urías, who starts on Friday, and Tony Gonsolin, who goes on Saturday. Rookies Bobby Miller, Emmet Sheehan and Michael Grove round out the rotation for the foreseeable future.

“For me it doesn’t change anything in the sense that I’m going to manage Julio tonight with a rested bullpen and I’ll do the same with Tony tomorrow and then Bobby Miller on Sunday,” Roberts said.

Before Kershaw’s injury, the Dodgers were already expected to be one of the most aggressive teams looking for starting pitching before the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline. Now that Kershaw’s timetable is uncertain, they might need to acquire multiple starters unless they want to continue to rely on three rookie starters and hope that Kershaw returns sooner rather than later without any setbacks.

“I do know our guys are, kind of like most teams, trying to see what’s out there and figure out a way to better our ballclub,” Roberts said. “It’s hard to imagine any team doesn’t think pitching is a need and I think we’re in that same position.”