ANAHEIM — Clayton Kershaw played catch with Dodgers head athletic trainer Stan Conte this afternoon. Each of his throws was a little bit farther than the one before, as Kershaw moved backward until he stood about 100 feet from Conte. One throw was interrupted by a magnitude-4.1 earthquake about 14 miles north of here. The 27th throw was his last. Here’s what it looked like:
Kershaw “felt something” in his upper left back on that throw according to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, in the same teres major muscle that showed inflammation in an MRI exam Wednesday. The pain was enough to end Kershaw’s throwing session and earn him a spot on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 23.
“At that point, we knew he couldn’t go any farther,” Mattingly said.
Kershaw, who signed a seven-year, $215 million contract extension in January, allowed one run in his Opening Day start against the Diamondbacks in Sydney, Australia. He has never been on the disabled list in his career.
The 26-year-old will be eligible to return from the DL as early as April 7. That’s an off-day for the Dodgers, who host the Detroit Tigers on April 8 and 9. Including the second of two games the Dodgers played in Australia against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Kershaw will only miss seven games.
There’s a possibility that Kershaw might be healthy enough to pitch sometime at home next weekend against the San Francisco Giants — at least, that Kershaw would try to be ready by then. But, as Mattingly said, “we have to save Clayton from Clayton.”
Can he only spend the minimum 15 days on the disabled list? Mattingly wouldn’t say.
Kershaw will take a day off from throwing Sunday, then try to resume throwing Monday when the Dodgers have an off-day workout at Petco Park in San Diego.
Hyun-Jin Ryu is expected to start the Dodgers’ home opener against the San Francisco Giants on Friday. Saturday’s start will go to either Josh Beckett — who is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list then — or Paul Maholm.
Ryu will also start tomorrow’s game in San Diego against the Padres. Zack Greinke starts Tuesday’s game and Dan Haren starts Wednesday.
Jose Dominguez was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque on Sunday, essentially beating Chris Withrow — another hard-throwing right-hander — for the final spot in the Dodgers’ Opening Day bullpen.
That all but solidifies the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster, barring any injuries today in their final Freeway Series game against the Angels:
Scott Van Slyke
Disabled List (3)