Rick Honeycutt had a premonition Monday. The Dodgers pitching coach was not with the team in Arizona — he was home recovering from back surgery — but he knew something was not right with Clayton Kershaw when he watched Kershaw’s live batting practice session on video. Honeycutt called him afterward.
“I just wanted to make sure where he was at that day, and he didn’t sound great that day,” said Honeycutt, who arrived at Camelback Ranch on Saturday. “So it felt like something was maybe just hopefully not right that day.”
Honeycutt found out it was more than a one-day issue. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Kershaw is dealing with “an arm kind of thing.” Honeycutt called it “irritation” and indicated Kershaw is dealing with a joint ailment. He said Kershaw is taking medication for the discomfort.
Kershaw, 31, has not thrown since tossing a bullpen session Wednesday and has been limited to gym workouts. The hope, as Kershaw said Friday, is that he will resume throwing at the start of the week.
“Kersh is going to power through whatever,” Honeycutt said. “And it wasn’t like you saw anything that jumped out of the video that would say, ‘Whoa, something’s not right. …’
“It’s a feel. It’s a feeling of the throws being proper, and it’s not that you see something mechanical that’s the issue. It’s more, I think, what’s just going on inside the joint right now.”
Kershaw began spring training with a bullpen session last week. He was named the Dodgers’ opening day starter for a franchise-record ninth consecutive season Tuesday — in between his live bullpen session and his last bullpen Wednesday. Roberts said he was not aware of Kershaw’s discomfort until after Wednesday’s bullpen session. Kershaw was given the day off Thursday.
“You want spring training to be as positive as possible, so you want things to keep progressing,” Honeycutt said. “And I knew there would be valleys in his progression. You just wanted it to be positive, but I just wanted to know. Mark [Prior, bullpen coach] kept me informed every day with how guys were looking and how things were going. But I just wanted to talk to him basically more than anything.”
Kershaw has spent time on the injured list because of back issues each of the last three seasons. He also missed more than three weeks last May with biceps tendinitis. Kershaw’s velocity dipped last season, but he still managed to compile a 2.73 ERA in 161 1/3 innings. He signed a three-year contract worth $93 million guaranteed in November instead of opting out of his previous deal and becoming a free agent for the first time in his career.
Seager takes another step forward
In a sign of his continued progression from elbow-ligament replacement surgery, shortstop Corey Seager fielded ground balls and completed throws across the diamond Saturday morning. Throwing across the field — along with hitting live pitching — was one of the final major hurdles Seager had to clear before playing in a game this spring.
Seager underwent Tommy John surgery last May and had arthroscopic left hip surgery in August. Roberts has said the club is “tracking” for Seager to be ready for opening day, less than 11 months after his elbow operation.
Honeycutt back after back surgery
Honeycutt joined the club Saturday for the first time in 2019 after undergoing back surgery Feb. 12. Honeycutt, who wore a back brace Saturday, was not in uniform for the team’s Cactus League opener as he continues to recover.
“The good thing is though I will be fine for the season,” said Honeycutt, who had video of pitchers’ bullpen sessions sent to him while he was away. “[It’ s my] first day getting out and each day I can get on my feet a little more, [I’ll] get stronger.”
Honeycutt, 64, is entering his 14th season as the Dodgers’ pitching coach.