A start in the minors was scheduled since at least Saturday — when he threw a three-inning simulated game at Dodger Stadium and emerged healthy — but the location had not been determined. The Dodgers, citing logistics and potential weather, chose between Oklahoma City and Double-A Tulsa. Kershaw will start for Oklahoma City against the San Antonio Missions on the teams’ opening day.
“So he’ll keep his opening day streak alive,” Roberts quipped.
Kershaw is on the Dodgers’ 10-day injured list — retroactive to March 25 — with left shoulder inflammation. The irritation sabotaged the left-hander’s spring training days after he was named the Dodgers’ opening day starter for the ninth straight season. Hyun-Jin Ryu made the start instead, ending Kershaw’s franchise-record streak of eight consecutive opening day starts.
On March 20, after facing hitters for the first time in more than a month, Kershaw estimated he would need another 20 days before he would be ready to join the Dodgers. He landed on that approximation based on adding an inning every five days. He will pitch four or five innings Thursday. Whether he needs a second rehab start will not be determined after the outing.
Rich Hill would have started on opening day if he hadn’t suffered a sprained left medial collateral ligament in his left knee on March 17. The 39-year-old left-hander landed on the 10-day disabled list. Roberts said Hill will throw his first bullpen session since March 19 on Tuesday or Thursday.
The Dodgers have replaced Hill and Kershaw in the rotation with Ross Stripling and Julio Urias. Stripling logged 5⅓ scoreless innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday. Urias, who will move to the bullpen once Kershaw or Hill returns, is made his season debut Monday against the San Francisco Giants.
Top affiliates’ rosters announced
Catcher Keibert Ruiz, infielder Gavin Lux and right-hander Dustin May, the Dodgers’ top three prospects in the minor leagues according to Baseball America, will begin the season with Double-A Tulsa.
May, a lanky 6-foot-6 starter, sparkled in big league camp with the Dodgers this spring. Roberts, without hesitation, said May was the player who stood out the most in spring training.
Catcher Will Smith and right-handers Dennis Santana and Tony Gonsolin (another pitching prospect who impressed in the Cactus League) highlight Oklahoma City’s opening day roster.