Clayton Kershaw’s spring training update is a breath of fresh air for Dodgers

Thomas Carannante
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second inning during a spring training game at Salt River Fields.Baseball Los Angeles Dodgers At Arizona Diamondbacks
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second inning during a spring training game at Salt River Fields.Baseball Los Angeles Dodgers At Arizona Diamondbacks /
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Worries about Clayton Kershaw’s elbow injury had many Los Angeles Dodgers fans wondering if the future Hall of Famer would be re-signing with the team, joining the Texas Rangers to be closer to home while he gets back on track, or retiring altogether.

Earlier this month, Kershaw agreed to a one-year, $17 million contract to remain with the franchise that drafted him, and not too long after managed to quell concerns about the injury that ended his 2021 season prematurely.

So far, the left-hander has made three starts and logged a total of 7.2 innings this spring. He’s allowed three runs on three hits and two walks while striking out seven. Can’t complain with that production, in what’s his first action since Oct. 1 (he pitched just 15.1 innings since July 3).

And whenever he can be as efficient as possible, that’s another plus. On Monday, Kershaw tossed four innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks in his most impressive outing yet.

Clayton Kershaw appears to be back for the Dodgers

The physical implications of the injury are obvious and overstated. Kershaw dealt with a flexor tendon issue that required a platelet-rich plasma injection, and sometimes that type of ailment is a precursor to the dreaded Tommy John surgery.

And that’s what introduces the mental aspect of this difficult journey. Every time Kershaw steps onto the mound it’s likely a battle for him to push the injury further back in his mind. And that’s likely a struggle with many other pitchers who are dealing with the potential ticking-time-bomb feeling with their arm issues. For so many, it’s only a matter of time before the worst-case scenario occurs.

But thankfully, Kershaw’s return to the mound this spring has helped him feel a bit more confident and gain some peace of mind on the matter.

As if he didn’t already have enough to deal with. His expiring contract and future in baseball hung in the balance for months. Entering his age-34 season and with an extensive injury history in recent years, it wouldn’t have been out of the question for Kershaw to ponder whether he had enough left in the tank to leave it all out on the field. Throw in a potential career-altering injury and it’s easy to understand how it’s been quite a whirlwind.

At the moment, though, it appears Kershaw’s doing well and moving forward at a pace he’s comfortable with. And he’s experimenting with a new changeup grip. Can’t argue that this is the best news Dodgers fans have heard about him all offseason, and it’s encouraging with Opening Day just over a week away.

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