Kershaw 'bummed' to withdraw from Classic

February 17th, 2023

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- announced Friday that he will not pitch for Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Kershaw, who committed to Team USA in December, wouldn’t get into specifics as to why he’ll miss the event, but a source told that it stems from him not being able to secure an insurance policy. Though Kershaw arrived at Spring Training healthy, he is coming off a 2022 season in which he made just 22 starts and spent significant time on the injured list due to back injuries.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner said he tried to work through the complications by consulting Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association and the Dodgers throughout the process, but nothing materialized.

“Super disappointing,” Kershaw said. “We tried a lot of different things, all sides really tried to make it work and nothing is wrong with me. It just didn’t work out. I really wanted to do it. I really wanted to be a part of that group. [It's] probably my last chance to do it, so I really wanted to do it. But it just didn’t work out for a number of reasons. Disappointing, but that’s OK. I’ll be ready for the season and be ready to go.”

Now that he won’t participate in the event, Kershaw will work with Dodgers pitching coach Mark Prior to develop his spring pitching plan. It could include more off-days, since he had arrived at camp ahead of schedule in preparation for WBC competition.

“[Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman] was great throughout the whole thing and said to try and make it work if I wanted to do it,” Kershaw said. “Obviously it’s not the first choice for any team to let their guy play for somebody else, but they were great about it.”

The left-hander said playing in the WBC hadn’t been a priority for him in the past because his focus was always on the upcoming season. But as he went through a healthy offseason, the idea became more appealing. The realization that it would likely be his last chance to participate led Kershaw to commit in December.

“It’s unfortunate that Clayton won’t be able to pitch for us,” said Team USA GM Tony Reagins. “Clayton’s desire to wear 'USA' across his chest and represent his country was evident very early on in this process. We would have loved to have this future Hall of Famer on the mound for us; we respect all that he would bring to this clubhouse and this group of men. We now have to pivot and turn our focus toward the next man up as we prepare to defend the WBC title. I’m confident in the roster that we’ve built and we look forward to getting everyone together in just a few weeks.”

Over the last few weeks, Kershaw said he spoke with the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright and manager Mark DeRosa about the opportunity to play for Team USA.

“It’s almost like an All-Star Game but with meaning,” Kershaw said. “I was getting really excited about it. I’m really bummed about it. It’s disappointing, but obviously it’s not the most important thing when you’re with the Dodgers. We’ll be ready for the season.”

The Dodgers still have a number of other players participating in the WBC. Mookie Betts and Will Smith will team up with Team USA; Miguel Rojas will play for Venezuela; Trayce Thompson will play for Great Britain; and Julio Urías and Austin Barnes will represent Mexico for the first time.