Reasons for the Dodgers to smile through the pain

Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

Come now Dodgers fans, raise up that chinny-chin chin. Sure, the news coming out of the Dodgers’ game Tuesday was of the dark variety.

Two-time Cy Young winner and $215-million man Clayton Kershaw now looks out until May with a back injury, and it would be a shock to no one if it’s not June. And even then, it might take a while before Kershaw is Kershaw.

And it’s a tad tough to be humming “Don’t Worry Baby” over Brian Wilson’s sudden elbow problem. There goes that Wilson in the eighth, Kenley Jansen in the ninth automatic plan.

Yep, a rough way to start the season. Hardly fits the “Dodgers conquer the world!” scenario. And expect not a single tear to be shed by followers of any other team.

Still, it’s not the end of the Dodgers’ baseball world or their season. Reasons for optimism remain. So smile along with a few of these:

—General Manager Ned Colletti built a bullpen with plenty of depth. So deep that young, effective, hard throwers Paco Rodriguez and Chris Withrow looked like they would have to start the season in the minors.

Only here they are, still looking sharp and needed. Another young talent, Jose Dominguez, is in the minors and available. The bullpen is so deep the Dodgers had to release former closer Javy Guerra and Seth Rosin, a Rule 5 pick they liked, to start the season.

Chris Perez, J.P. Howell and Rodriguez should be able to fill in Wilson’s set-up role without missing much of a beat.

—The Dodgers have an extra, proven starting pitcher in Paul Maholm, one close to returning in Josh Beckett and another — Chad Billingsley — expected back next month.

It’s difficult to know what to anticipate from Beckett (rib removal) and Billingsley (Tommy John) as they return from surgeries, but that still figures as potentially solid depth. Not Kershaw material, but nice to have waiting.

—Kershaw pitched a total of 259 innings last season. That’s a lot. Try looking at this as the proverbial blessing in disguise. Would you rather have Kershaw strong and available in April or October?

—The Dodgers have started 3-1 — and, OK, it’s only four games, but they’ve done it with the middle of their lineup MIA.

Hanley Ramirez (1 for 15), Adrian Gonzalez (1 for 13) and Andre Ethier (2 for 15) are hitting a combined .093. Thinking that won’t continue.

—Matt Kemp could be activated by Friday. He has a lot to prove at this point and may require some patience, but remember he hit .314 last September and appeared to be coming around before he had that brain-cramp that led to his ankle injury and surgery.

Three years ago he was one of the best players in the game and he’s only 29. He could yet have a huge impact.

Are you smiling? Just a little?

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