For the last few weeks, since Clayton Kershaw’s shoulder barked so loudly that ignoring it became treacherous, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has declined to shut down the possibility of the left-hander starting on opening day. He still hasn’t; with Kershaw, he maintains, anything is possible. But on Friday, with less than two weeks until the Dodgers begin the season, Roberts acknowledged the obvious.
“It’s unlikely,” Roberts said. “Unlikely is fair. I don’t want to close the door, but it’s more, obviously, when you look at the calendar, it’s more unlikely.”
Kershaw, 30, has been the Dodgers’ opening-day starter the past eight seasons. Vicente Padilla was the last Dodger not named Kershaw to toe the rubber in Game No. 1, in 2010. On Feb. 19, Roberts announced Kershaw would start the game for the ninth consecutive year. Kershaw ceased throwing less than a week later. His spring, one in which he hoped to lay the groundwork for a resurgence after battling injuries last season, had been hijacked.
He eventually started a throwing program, playing catch until he was deemed ready to throw off a mound. Kershaw has logged two bullpen sessions and is scheduled to throw a third session on Monday. He didn’t throw any breaking pitches in the first two, but is expected to incorporate his entire arsenal in his next session. Kershaw then has nine days before the March 28 opening day.
“Clayton is on board with whatever our training staff supports,” Roberts said. “So we’re all synced up and essentially taking it day to day.”
Roberts insisted Kershaw could make an abbreviated start — three or four innings — on opening day. The same could happen with Walker Buehler, who is scheduled to pitch in his first Cactus League game on Monday or Tuesday.
“That’s why, for me, I don’t think it’s responsible for me to close the door just to say he’s not,” Roberts said. “Because that’s not the truth. And whatever capacity, how you structure the ‘pen will obviously reflect that. But we’re not prepared to close the door yet.”
Seager to play shortstop again
Corey Seager is scheduled to play five innings at shortstop in a minor league game on Saturday. Seager played in the field for the first time on Thursday, manning shortstop for three innings in an intrasquad squad minor league game.
Should Seager emerge healthy, he will then continue ramping up his innings in the field until he plays in a game with the major league club. Roberts said he expects Seager will play in a major league exhibition game, but claimed it isn’t necessary.
“It’s still nice for a player to check a box that you played a game with your teammates but he’s played in plenty of major league games,” Roberts said. “So whether it’s the Freeway Series or whatever, he’s familiar. Outside of any butterflies over a new season, we’re not too concerned about it.”
Muncy held out again
Max Muncy didn’t play again on Friday after being a late scratch on Thursday with right forearm irritation. Muncy took groundballs at third base at Camelback Ranch, but didn’t make any throws. Roberts labeled Muncy’s status as day-to-day.