Clayton Kershaw’s throwing session ‘was just OK,’ may go on IL

Clayton Kershaw's throwing session 'was just OK,' may go on IL

The Dodgers welcomed Julio Urías back to the rotation for Saturday night’s game against the Kansas City Royals, but the left-hander’s first start in more than a month was delayed by a thunderstorm that drenched Kauffman Stadium shortly after the scheduled 4:15 p.m. PDT first pitch.

Urías, who went 5-4 with a 4.39 ERA in his first 10 starts, missed 36 games because of a left-hamstring strain. The 26-year-old left-hander made one rehabilitation start for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, allowing one run and two hits and striking out eight in four innings.

“From what he did in his rehab outing, that’s all we need,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before the game. “It was 93-95 mph, it was a teethy slider. His command, his velocity, nothing was consistent [before the injury]. So hopefully he’s healthy. He’s certainly motivated to finish well.”

Urías went 17-7 with a National League-best 2.16 ERA in 31 starts last season, striking out 166 and walking 41 in 175 innings, and he was hoping to parlay a strong 2023 season into a nine-figure contract in free agency next winter. But to do so, he will have to stay healthy and pitch effectively for the remainder of the season.

“We love Julio — he’s been a great Dodger — and our hope [is that we re-sign him],” Roberts said. “But when you’re a free agent, he’s earned the right to make the decision himself. So for me, I would love to have Julio, but as a free agent, it’s what’s best for his family, and he and his agent have to make that decision.”

As happy as the Dodgers are to have Urías back, his return to the rotation might be offset — at least temporarily — by the loss of ace Clayton Kershaw, who could be placed on the injured list because of shoulder inflammation on Sunday.

Kershaw pulled himself from Tuesday night’s game in Colorado after throwing 79 pitches over six one-hit innings, and he received a cortisone injection in what he described as a “cranky” shoulder on Thursday.

The left-hander completed a vigorous throwing session in the Kauffman Stadium outfield on Saturday afternoon, a workout Kershaw said was “alright.”

But Roberts described the session “was just OK.” The Dodgers want to see how Kershaw comes out of the workout on Sunday before making a roster move. If Kershaw can’t make his next scheduled start on Monday night against Pittsburgh, right-hander Michael Grove “would be an option” to start against the Pirates, Roberts said.

Kershaw, who is 10-4 with a 2.55 ERA in 16 starts, is the only pitcher from the opening-day rotation to avoid the injured list, but the Dodgers don’t want to risk sending him to the mound at less than 100% with a week to go before the All-Star break.

The original plan was for Kershaw to start twice in the final week before the break, Monday against the Pirates and Saturday against the Angels. By shutting down Kershaw this week, he would get at least 15 days to rest and recover before making his first start after the break.

“That’s the whole point,” Roberts said. “Could he probably [pitch]? Yeah. But you’re trying to weigh how clean it is, how good it feels against is it OK to get a reset? So think for us, it’s like, it’s OK.”

Kershaw, a three-time National League Cy Young Award winner, takes pride in his ability to fight through minor aches and pains to pitch, but he didn’t sound like he was ready to fight the Dodgers if they decide to place him on the IL.

“I’m not gonna be stupid,” Kershaw said on Thursday. “If it feels like it needs a few days or I need to wait through the break, I’ll do that. But I don’t think it’s gonna be a long-term thing or anything like that, regardless.”

Short hops

Roberts said utility man Chris Taylor, out since June 25 because of right-knee soreness, won’t return before the All-Star break. … Friday night marked the second time in Mookie Betts’ career that the Dodgers leadoff man reached base six times in a game. Betts, who hit two homers, an RBI double, an RBI single and walked twice in a 9-3 victory over the Royals, last accomplished the feat as a member of the Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees on Aug. 2, 2018. Betts now has 25 leadoff homers as a Dodger, four shy of the franchise record of 29 set by Davey Lopes. … First baseman Freddie Freeman has been in the starting lineup for all 82 games this season. The iron man started the first 141 games of the 2022 season before taking his first day off on Sept. 14. Asked on Saturday if he had broached the topic of a day off with Freeman, Roberts said, “No, no, we’re not even close. … He’s getting off-days during the All-Star break.”