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Clayton Kershaw to start opening day for Dodgers vs Giants
AP

Clayton Kershaw to start opening day for Dodgers vs Giants

  • Updated

LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw will make his franchise-record ninth opening day start for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Manager Dave Roberts confirmed his choice Tuesday in a video conference call. The Dodgers open the 60-game season on July 23 at home against the rival San Francisco Giants. Kershaw was tabbed to start opening day against the Giants on March 26 before the season was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 32-year-old left-hander tossed four innings in the Dodgers' second intrasquad game Monday night. He struck out new teammate Mookie Betts on a called third strike by umpire Bob Geren, the team's bench coach who was working the plate. Kershaw threw another inning in the bullpen.

Kershaw's streak of opening day starts ended last year when he began the season on the injured list with left shoulder inflammation. He was replaced by Hyun-Jin Ryu, who signed with Toronto in December.

Kershaw is 5-1 with a 1.05 ERA on opening day.

The team's rotation was upended when new Dodger David Price said he would sit out the season. He was expected to be the No. 3 starter behind Kershaw and Walker Buehler. Julio Urias and Alex Wood were expected to fill out the back end.

Ross Stripling, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin are among the leading contenders to fill Price's spot.

Ohtani back on Big A mound

ANAHEIM — Shohei Ohtani threw competitive pitches off the mound at Angel Stadium on Tuesday for the first time in two years.

Ohtani struggled with his control in the Los Angeles Angels' intrasquad game, walking eight batters on about 50 pitches. The two-way star and manager Joe Maddon weren't overly concerned about the results of another key day in Ohtani's return from Tommy John surgery.

“I was able to throw all my pitches today, so I’m just going to try to build on that,” Ohtani said through a translator. “Obviously it felt a lot different from my bullpens, especially because I was unfamiliar with pitching to my teammates. That kind of threw me off a little bit.”

Ohtani hadn't pitched at the Big A since June 9, 2018, when he left a game with what was initially called a blister. Ohtani was shut down as a pitcher for three months, and the AL Rookie of the Year only returned for one outing in September before it was determined he needed elbow surgery.

“I just saw a guy that didn’t have good rhythm in his delivery,” Maddon said. “He just wasn't as sharp as he can be, obviously.”

Ohtani served solely as a designated hitter for the Angels last season, hitting .286 with 18 homers and 62 RBIs. He intends to resume his two-way career when the majors' 60-game regular season begins later this month.

Ohtani has gradually built up his arm strength since spring training through workouts at Angel Stadium amid the coronavirus pandemic. He wasn't scheduled to return to the mound this season until May, and the Angels hope he can make one start per week for the duration of the two-month regular season.

Ohtani struggled with his control during his first spring training with the Angels in 2018, but he largely shook off those woes when he got to the regular season.

“I’ve been told it looked like that a couple of years ago, and there’s nothing to be concerned or alarmed," said Maddon, who returned to the Angels organization in the offseason. "He’s healthy. He walked away good.”

More positive tests, canceled workouts add to MLB unease

As baseball nears the two-week countdown to the start of its delayed season, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep more players, including Boston Red Sox projected opening day starter Eduardo Rodriguez, off the field.

On Tuesday, one day after Major League Baseball released its 60-game schedule, there was continued evidence of the difficulties caused by the pandemic.

The San Francisco Giants suspended workouts at Oracle Park as they awaited the results of weekend tests for the coronavirus. The Chicago Cubs' workout was delayed.

Oakland left-hander Jake Diekman, who has ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune condition, said teams having to call off workouts because of delays in test results “just can't happen.”

“I know they’re trying their hardest, but I don’t know if that’s good enough for right now,” Diekman said Tuesday. “It’s a little worrisome. Say we go on a 10-day road trip and we only get results one time. That’s not very good with 45 or 50 people in a clubhouse at one time.”

Giants manager Gabe Kapler said one missed day wouldn't put his club behind. He said he expects the testing process to improve.

“I feel as confident today as I did yesterday,” Kapler said. “I understand that there are going to be hiccups along the way. ... I think more than anything I just maintain a level of empathy for everybody that’s working really hard to get our camp up and running but also across the league and for all the clubs that are working really hard to put their players in a position to have success. Nobody expected this to be easy and everybody is doing the best that they can.”

The Giants already have had prospect Hunter Bishop and pitcher Luis Madero test positive.

Rodriguez, who broke out in 2019 as a star, and Red Sox prospect Bobby Dalbec tested positive for the virus.

Rodriguez had not reported to camp after informing the team that he had been around relatives who had been ill. Dalbec, a third baseman, also is home and is asymptomatic.

Manager Ron Roenicke said it is “just unfortunate” the positive test could jeopardize Rodriguez’s chances to start on opening day. Rodriguez had career-best numbers with 19 wins and a 3.81 ERA in 2019.

Also, the Kansas City Royals announced right-hander Brad Keller and first baseman Ryan O’Hearn had positive tests and gave the team permission to announce the results.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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