Clayton Kershaw facing ‘challenges’ to get cleared for World Baseball Classic

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw celebrates a strikeout against the San Diego Padres in the playoffs on Oct. 12, 2022.
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw celebrates a strikeout against the San Diego Padres in the playoffs on Oct. 12, 2022, at Dodger Stadium.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers are still expecting Clayton Kershaw to play in next month’s World Baseball Classic for Team USA.

U.S. general manager Tony Reagins, however, acknowledged Thursday that “there are some challenges in getting Clayton cleared” for the international tournament.

Kershaw announced his commitment to play for the U.S. team in the WBC — something he’d never before done in his 15-year career — in December, shortly after re-signing with the Dodgers on a one-year, $20-million deal for the 2023 season.


When official rosters for the WBC were unveiled last week, Kershaw was included on the star-studded American team.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts on Wednesday denied that his team used an illegal sign-stealing system in 2017 and 2018, an accusation made by sources in a just-released book.

Feb. 15, 2023

Asked Wednesday when he was planning to join Team USA for pre-tournament actitvites — the team’s first workout is scheduled for March 7 across town in Scottsdale — Kershaw indicated he was working through issues to finalize his participation.

“There’s some complications right now,” he said. “Still working through some of that stuff now. I don’t have any finite answers. But assuming I’m on the team, I’ll be there when everybody else is. That’s all I really have on that one.”

Reagins echoed that sentiment Thursday in a phone call with The Times.

“We’re going through the process,” said Reagins, the former Angels GM who also serves as Major League Baseball’s chief baseball development officer. “I think that’s the best information that I could give you.”

Both Kershaw and Reagins declined to specify the exact reason for the left-hander’s suddenly uncertain status.

While the Dodgers gave Kershaw their blessing to participate in the event, which is being held for the first time since 2017 and could keep players away from their spring camps for up to two weeks, there are other factors that can impact players’ availability in the competition.


The most common hold-up is the need to secure insurance coverage for players — particularly those with a history of injuries such as Kershaw, who last season missed two months because of back problems and in 2021 nearly needed Tommy John surgery for an elbow ailment.

In past iterations of the WBC, players who weren’t cleared for insurance coverage were unable to participate. In 2017, then-Oakland Athletics pitcher Sonny Gray was forced to withdraw from Team USA’s roster shortly before the event after being denied coverage following an injury-plagued 2016 campaign.

Reagins confirmed that insurance is again a requirement for this year’s competition, and that “we’re doing our due diligence and the WBC is doing its due diligence as it relates to any player and their medical status.”

For now, the Dodgers are proceeding as if Kershaw will take part in the event, according to their general manager, Brandon Gomes.

“That’s our expectation,” Gomes said, adding: “He’s working through it and we’ll take it day by day.”

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Feb. 15, 2023

Kershaw has also indicated he still wants to play in the event, and downplayed concerns about how it might impact his preparation for the regular season.


“Everybody assumes I’m ramping it up early,” he said. “I’m really not. I’m just doing the exact same thing I would have done.”

Times staff writer Jorge Castillo contributed to this report.