Kershaw is Hurting Himself and the Dodgers Need to Stop Him

jrudner
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20: Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers on the mound in the first inning against the Washington Nationalsat Dodger Stadium on April 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20: Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers on the mound in the first inning against the Washington Nationalsat Dodger Stadium on April 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /
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Five weeks ago we were told he would be fine, he just needed time. They said that Kershaw, the best pitcher most of us have ever seen, would go through the motions like he did last year, rehab and rejoin the rotation. And, while he was ahead of schedule, that appeared to be the plan. But, on June 22, the Dodger announced that Kershaw, contrary to prior reports, would jump from the disabled list to the rotation with no rehab in between and that is a mistake the Dodgers should not be allowing their best player to make.

The Dodgers need Kershaw. You can point to record with or without him but that only says so much. This is a pitcher that gives longevity per start. Every five days the Dodgers know they have a chance to win. This is a pitcher who steps on the mound and the players instantly know they need to do everything they can behind the man who has done more in his 10-year career than other pitchers will do in a lifetime.

But, Kershaw’s status as an all-time great, cemented in half the time it took others to achieve the same standing, has also awarded him a say in his recovery. It has allowed him to tell the front office and coaches when he feels he is ready, not the other way around.

To a certain degree that is okay. Kershaw knows Kershaw better than anybody else and while the reality may be harsh for a manager, that has afforded the 30-year old ace the ability to control what he does. But, when it comes to being injured, the player who prides himself on routine seems to skip necessary steps, going from zero to 60 in his rehab, a trend that cannot continue.

And if you think he is fine, think again, he is not. Kershaw has suffered a back injury in each of the last three seasons including this one and has missed more than a month of time in each case. So, with an injury as serious as a back problem or a shoulder issue, why is it that he can skip the rehab and go straight into a game?

The real answer is he should not be able to do that. Even with an arm that is out of this world, he is still human and he gets hurt like one too.

His body requires the same approach anyone else does and that start by entering a controlled environment with a pitch count and easier competition than he may face in a major league appearance.

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Kershaw has no bad intentions here. It is his drive and passion that we have all come to love that hinders his ability to just sit back and take the time he needs to fully get healthy. Kershaw always has to hit the ground running but if we were to compare his career to life, he needs to just crawl before he runs.

But, this time around and many before this one we are watching him skip the crawl, the walk, the jog, and anything else that may come in between. His fiery competitive nature will make the start against the Mets and whether or not he is in pain Kershaw will pitch and he will do it to the best of his ability.

But here is where the Dodgers need to step in. They need to control this. The player that they are ultimately in charge of quite honestly must be forced to rehab. He must be forced to take it slow because, in the long run, it will keep him around this game longer.

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But, in the end, all we can do is watch as 22 takes the field. Healthy or not we are in for a treat but the onus is on the Dodgers should his health become unsustainable. Kershaw will run on against the Mets but it might just be time to open his eyes and make him crawl.

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