GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said on Sunday that he expects pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler and shortstop Corey Seager to be healthy and “ready” by Opening Day, but he hedged on the definition of ready.
After Roberts announced at the beginning of camp that Kershaw would be the Opening Day starter for the ninth consecutive year, the ace developed left shoulder inflammation. With medication and treatment, Kershaw has recovered enough that he is expected to throw his first bullpen session in two weeks on Monday.
During Kershaw’s rehab, Roberts never ruled him out as the Opening Day starter, although having missed two weeks of workouts and four Spring Training starts, Kershaw will not be built up in time for a normal Opening Day start.
“Ready is relative to what anyone feels is ready,” said Roberts. “Is it the conventional buildup both those guys are used to? Probably not, if you look at the calendar. But whatever decision we make we feel is best for the players and our club.”
In other words, just because Kershaw and Buehler are expected to be “ready” to start the season doesn’t mean they will, because the Dodgers have enough starting depth to leave one or both in extended spring training to build arm strength for additional innings. Or not.
“Right now, we don’t have to make that decision,” Roberts said.
Buehler -- healthy but “slow-played” in Spring Training to protect an arm that handled a sharp innings spike last year -- threw to hitters on Saturday and will again Tuesday or Wednesday, which would be a final preparation before his first spring game by the weekend.
He was very sharp in a 20-pitch session on Saturday and said he expects to double that pitch count next time. Buehler also said he expects to be able to handle 80 pitches or more by the start of the season.
Seager missed almost all of the 2018 season with operations on his right elbow and left hip. The shortstop has been working out with the club in the mornings and taking at-bats in a controlled setting on the Minor League side, a routine he is expected to continue as official Minor League games get underway this week.
“The way he was moving around yesterday, he’s very excited,” said Roberts. “We couldn’t be more happy with where he’s at this day.”
And that means the club expects Seager to be ready for Opening Day?
“Absolutely,” said Roberts.