For the first time in his career, Clayton Kershaw is on the disabled list.
Kershaw would have started the Dodgers' home opener Friday. Instead, Hyun-jin Ryu will start that game -- his third start in the Dodgers' first six games.
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said Kershaw experienced discomfort on the last of his 27 throws as he played catch Saturday. The Dodgers already had scratched Kershaw from his scheduled Sunday start because of what the team said was inflammation in his upper back, and they put him on the disabled list immediately after he reported the discomfort Saturday.
"We're going to protect him from him," Mattingly said.
The Dodgers can activate Kershaw as soon as April 8. They have five off days within 15 days, starting Tuesday, enabling them to juggle their starters and buy time for Kershaw. They do not need to use a fifth starter until April 19.
Ryu, Zack Greinke and Dan Haren will start in the three-game series in San Diego that opens Sunday. Ryu will come back Friday, on normal rest, with Josh Beckett or Paul Maholm likely to start next Saturday.
The Dodgers signed Kershaw to a $215-million contract in January -- making him the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history -- because of his talent and durability. The two-time Cy Young award winner threw 259 innings last season, including playoffs, 26 innings more than his previous career high and the most by any Dodgers pitcher since Orel Hershiser threw 309 2/3 innings in 1988.
In February, Mattingly said the Dodgers would carefully monitor Kershaw's workload this season.
"We're very mindful of Clayton and the number of innings he pitched last year, the short winter," Mattingly said then. "We're not going to be cautious and baby him, but we have to make sure we pay attention to how many innings this guy's throwing."
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