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Roberts says Kershaw 'unlikely' for Opening Day

@kengurnick
March 16, 2019

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- In a nod to both the calendar and the obvious, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts conceded Friday that it’s “unlikely” Clayton Kershaw will be the club's Opening Day starting pitcher. Roberts said that the club hasn’t decided who will make the March 28 start against Arizona. The most

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- In a nod to both the calendar and the obvious, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts conceded Friday that it’s “unlikely” Clayton Kershaw will be the club's Opening Day starting pitcher.

Roberts said that the club hasn’t decided who will make the March 28 start against Arizona. The most stretched out starter is Rich Hill, who Roberts said is “in the mix.”

Kershaw is all but out of the mix because of the shoulder inflammation that set him back three weeks. Since returning from that, he threw a second bullpen session Thursday, only throwing fastballs. He has another one set for Monday, when he is expected to incorporate breaking balls.

He hasn’t pitched in a Spring Training game yet, and probably won’t until the end of next week, leaving less than one week before the season starts.

“It’s unlikely, that’s fair,” Roberts said of what would have been Kershaw’s ninth consecutive season opener. “But to be definitive, I don’t want to close the door. But when you look at the calendar, it’s more unlikely.”

Roberts said it was possible that even if Kershaw doesn’t start the opener, he could start the first time through the rotation, although even that could be rushing it.

“With Clayton, anything’s possible,” said Roberts. “Obviously, Clayton has made many Opening Day starts for us consecutively, but we’ve got to do right by him and for us. ... It could be Rich [Hill on Opening Day]. We haven’t set it exactly. All the guys that are healthy are in play.

“It’s not responsible for me to just close the door. Whatever capacity and how you structure the 'pen would have to reflect that. Clayton is on board with whatever our training staff supports. We’re all synced up and taking it day to day. Wherever that takes us, he’s at peace with.”

Kershaw, who signed a three-year, $93 million contract in November, spent the winter recalibrating his body to better sync with his mechanics after experiencing a drop in fastball velocity last year.

His first two bullpen sessions in Arizona went without a hitch, but after a live batting practice session and a bullpen session two days later, Kershaw complained of shoulder discomfort. He received anti-inflammatory medication and treatment and was shut down for several days.

Injury updates

Corey Seager, who played three innings of defense for the first time Thursday during a Minor League game, had a light day Friday and is expected to play five innings of defense Saturday.

Roberts said he expects Seager, who is rehabbing from elbow and hip operations, to eventually play a handful of Major League spring games and be ready for the start of the regular season.

“Whether it’s the Freeway Series, he’s familiar, we’re not too concerned,” said Roberts.

Max Muncy was out of the lineup for a second game due to right forearm stiffness. He took ground balls Friday, but did not throw. He is currently day to day.

Worth noting

In the Dodgers’ 8-1 win over the Reds on Friday night, Paulo Orlando capped an eight-run eighth inning with a grand slam, Alex Verdugo singled in two runs and former Reds farmhand Jeter Downs singled in a run. Starting pitcher Julio Urias threw three scoreless innings. Reliever Yimi Garcia, who is out of options, continued his dominant spring with his seventh scoreless inning and ninth strikeout.

Up next

On Saturday, Tony Gonsolin gets his second start for the Dodgers in a 1:05 p.m. PT game against the White Sox. Also scheduled to pitch for the Dodgers are relievers Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Scott Alexander and Pedro Baez.

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