Clayton Kershaw's Opening Day presence shows why he's such an integral Dodger

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Three
Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Three / Norm Hall/GettyImages

When the Dodgers re-signed Clayton Kershaw in February, we were all able to breathe a collective sigh of relief. There were three roads in front of him after he left in free agency at the end of 2023 season: come back to LA, leave for the first time in his career for the Rangers, or retire, and it seemed pretty touch-and-go for a while there.

Kershaw had a personal connection in Texas in Rangers GM Chris Young, whom he played on the same high school team with, and after he came back to the Dodgers, he admitted that he had heavily considered retirement.

But he re-signed to get another half-season (or so) as a Dodger when he returns from shoulder surgery (with a player option for 2025). Anything could happen, but the odds of Kershaw being a lifelong Dodger look good.

Even though he won't return to the team for some time (his early estimate was late July), it didn't keep him from being spotted working out at Dodger Stadium ahead of the team's Home Opener against the Cardinals, the very first Dodger to hit the field.

Clayton Kershaw was the first Dodger to hit the field on Opening Day despite starting the season on the IL

Given the grindset a lot of the Dodgers' stars approach the game with (Shohei Ohtani was spotted throwing in public for the first time just minutes after a press conference about the Ippei Mizuhara situation), it speaks volumes that Kershaw was still their first player to hit the field on Thursday.

Kershaw broke the Dodgers record for Opening Day starts in 2021, when he took the mound for the ninth time, and he broke Don Sutton's record for consecutive Opening Day starts in 2018, with his eighth. Not having Kershaw on the roster to kick off the season feels a little strange, to say the least, but after all of the question marks around him since 2023 concluded, it's just nice to see him still out there in Dodger blue for another year and influencing the teammates around him.