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Kershaw returns to camp, gets chance to 'reset'

Roberts: 'No one’s alarmed or worried by it'
@kengurnick
February 22, 2019

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Clayton Kershaw said he will resume throwing by early next week after being given a chance to “reset” by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts following two discouraging outings on the mound. Roberts gave Kershaw the day off on a rainy Thursday after the left-hander told his manager that

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Clayton Kershaw said he will resume throwing by early next week after being given a chance to “reset” by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts following two discouraging outings on the mound.

Roberts gave Kershaw the day off on a rainy Thursday after the left-hander told his manager that he "just didn’t feel right" after throwing live batting practice Monday and a bullpen session on Wednesday. Kershaw worked out indoors on Friday but did not play catch, and Roberts wouldn’t speculate on his next bullpen session.

“I’m just taking a few days to reset and go from there,” Kershaw said. “I’m not going to be super specific right now. I should be playing catch in the next few days. This is super early and just want to make sure things are right. If not by this weekend, then the first of next week and go from there.”

Roberts was unclear on exactly what is wrong with Kershaw, who has dealt with back injuries the past three seasons and a left shoulder injury last year, but the skipper said this issue is “nothing like that.”

“Not fatigue. Not back. Just arm kind of thing,” Roberts said. “He did great work this winter. It’s more of, you don’t feel right, get back in the weight room and just reset.”

Roberts said he is not alarmed that Kershaw -- who signed a contract extension in November for three years and $93 million and was named the Opening Day starter on Tuesday -- has an arm issue of some sort.

“No, I’m pretty good at reading players, reading Clayton and listening to the training staff,” Roberts said. “There’s no ... no one’s alarmed or worried by it. There’s plenty of time for him to get his ‘pens in and build up. He holds himself to a high standard. He really wasn’t pleased with how he felt. It’s sort of a day-to-day thing.”

Roberts said Kershaw could just be going through a so-called “dead-arm stage,” which often strikes pitchers after a few Spring Training games.

“I don’t want to go out there and say that’s what it is, but when I listen to Clayton and the training staff, this is the right way to go about it, and potentially it could be something like that," Roberts said. “We’re looking at the calendar, just to push things back is prudent, and that’s what we’re doing right now.

“To say when he’s going to pitch his next ‘pen, I can’t say right now. We’re leaving that to him and the trainers on when that is. Right now, to step away and give him a couple days is what we want to do.”

Though reluctant to provide much detail, Kershaw spent the winter working on syncing his body and mechanics by improving his flexibility. At the time of the signing, Kershaw said he had a chance to prove a lot of people wrong after growing suggestions his career was in decline. Kershaw turns 31 next month.

The franchise's best pitcher in a half-century opted out of the final two years of his contract to sign what amounted to a one-year extension. His potential value on the market was complicated by the back and shoulder issues that put him on the injured list and likely contributed to the diminished velocity. He adjusted by essentially becoming a breaking-ball pitcher, relying on his slider.

For most of this decade, Kershaw has been the best pitcher of his generation and the greatest Dodgers pitcher since Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, with whom he has developed a close friendship and is often compared.

Kershaw is a three-time National League Cy Young Award winner, an NL MVP Award winner and a seven-time All-Star. Despite two stints on the injured list in 2018, he finished with a 2.73 ERA -- good for fourth in the NL had he thrown enough innings -- and went 6-1 in the second half.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.