Clayton Kershaw Declares He’s Ready to Return, Dodgers Say No


Does Clayton Kershaw really need another rehab start before rejoining the Dodgers’ rotation? Apparently Kershaw himself doesn’t feel he does, but the Dodgers are making him anyways. We’ve seen this happen countless times. Rehabbing players pushed to make numerous minor league starts before being green-lighted to return to their team and teammates.

Kershaw was a bit peeved after learning the Dodgers were shipping him off to presumably Chattanooga for his second rehab start since working back from a back strain. After Don Mattingly announced that Kersh will make one more rehab start, the two-time Cy Young Award winner was asked if he agreed with the decision:

"“Not really. I did the best I could. But I’m not going to fight the team if everybody doesn’t want me to do something. I feel normal,” he said. “That’s the hard part, going to pitch another [Minor League] game when I feel healthy.”"

Apr 20, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) throws from the mound while Los Angeles Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt looks on during warmups before the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The southpaw threw a bullpen session on Sunday, and he declared that he was all systems go. It seemed as though Don Mattingly had already made up his decision before the Dodgers’ game versus the Rockies on Sunday afternoon, and his main concern was pitch count. On Friday in Rancho Cucamonga , Kershaw made 56 pitches. Mattingly feels that the jump from 56 to at least 90 pitches is too big of a leap, and Kershaw should make one more rehab start to build up his arm strength.

Does Kershaw really need to waste innings in AA-Chattanooga while his team is in Minnesota taking on the Twins? We saw Hyun-jin Ryu struggle in his outing on Sunday versus Colorado, and most of the Dodgers’ starters haven’t been able to go deep into games this season. Injecting Kershaw back into the rotation would definitely give the other starters a lift and possible extra day rest if scheduled that way. Kershaw would be on track to start Wednesday in Minnesota. Dan Haren is slotted for that start as of right now.

I feel Kershaw is ready to go. Although I’m not a doctor or trainer, I think that another rehab start and extra travel time would only tire Kershaw even more much like the effect the Australian trip had on the ace. The Dodgers have not specified that Kershaw would in fact make a start in Chattanooga, but if he did he would have to travel to Tennessee then on to Miami to rejoin his team.

The advantage to Kershaw making another rehab start and skipping Minnesota would be that he would not have to pitch in the cold. Tuesday’s forecast for Minneapolis is 38° with rain and snow! Perhaps Kershaw should piece back into the rotation once they are in the much sunnier Miami.

The good news is that Kershaw feels normal and he is ready to be activated once the Dodgers are ready to let him. While I don’t necessarily

Clayton Kershaw speaks to the media after his first rehab start in Rancho Cucamonga. Photo: Mark Andes

agree with another rehab start, I can understand the decision making process which includes consideration to Kershaw’s importance to the Dodgers for the entirety of the season and not just one start in Minnesota.

The Dodgers are scuffling right now and find themselves tied with Colorado in second place in the N.L. West after going 4-6 on the homestand they just completed. There’s no doubt that the Dodgers are a much weaker team without their key battery of Kershaw and Ellis. Every game without the dynamic duo is one less in their favor. With Kershaw’s return immanent, Dodger fans should have a lot to look forward to this season. I miss Kershaw as much as everyone else does, but I want a healthy Kershaw for the remainder of the season and into October.