Are the Dodgers Being Transparent About Clayton Kershaw’s Injury?

Well, if you’re a Dodgers fan, you hope so. But I have my doubts.

Kershaw has been on the disabled list since the end of March, retroactive to the day after his start in Australia, with an injury to the teres major muscle in his upper back. The high end of the projected 2-3 weeks he was supposed to spend on the DL would have him ready to return the week of April 20th. Sorry, folks, I just don’t think that is going to happen. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • Jurickson Profar, the outstanding middle infield prospect for the Texas Rangers, is out an estimated 10-12 weeks with an injury to his teres major muscle. His injury is diagnosed as a tear, and therefore more serious than Kershaw’s, but he’s also not a pitcher who is expected to throw 100+ pitches every fifth day, many of them in the neighborhood of 95 miles per hour.
  • There’s a proximity issue when it comes to the shoulder and the teres. Now, I’m not a doctor (more on that in a moment), but if there’s a chance that there could be a rotator cuff injury if they don’t take proper care of this back thing, you can bet they are erring way on the side of caution. A rotator cuff tear means a year on the sidelines. If they have to wait two months to ensure that not happening, you can bet they’re gonna.
  • Me. That’s right. No, not because I’m telling them anything, but because ten years ago, I had a strain of my teres major on the right side. I tweaked it at the gym, it still hurt a few days later, so I got it checked out. Know what the doctor prescribed? Three weeks of rest. Then ease back into my gym routine. Ease back. Don’t jump back. Ease back. Sure, I am not and never have been an elite athlete, but ten years ago I was in fact 25, in pretty good shape, and a quick healer. 

Now, why am I suspicious you ask? You probably didn’t, but I’m imagining you did so just go with it. Well, dig back in the recesses of your memory and think about how injuries were reported 10-15 years ago. Guys didn’t have plantar fasciitis, or a lisfranc injury. They had a sore or sprained foot. Guys didn’t have teres major muscle strains. They had a sore back. This isn’t in any way to minimize injuries, but why use the technical or medical terminology when 99% of the population doesn’t know what the hell it is anyway?

Well, that’s simple. A decade ago, you didn’t have Twitter, or Facebook, or Instagram, or any other variety of social media outlets that let people instantly share whatever the hell is on their mind. Idiots with blogs like yours truly over here were in small supply. The Internet was alive, well, and thriving, but not to the degree that it is now. People actually have jobs these days where social media is part of the description. Imagine that. 

Why does this matter, you ask? Please, just take a minute and ask. Out loud, please, just so I feel a little less crazy. Thank you. Well, here are a couple of scenarios for you. Humor me.

  • The Dodgers announce Clayton Kershaw has injured a muscle in his back, close to his shoulder, and will be on the shelf for a couple of months. Ned Colletti and Don Mattingly give their obligatory press conferences and say things like, “Clearly, this is a significant loss for us, but we are hopefull Clayton will be 100% as we chase the division title this Summer.” Meanwhile, social media goes crazy. Every news outlet in the LA area, and most on a national level that cover sports, analyze the hell out what it means to the National League West Division chase. Every single question for weeks that Dodger players and coaches get is about Kershaw. It becomes a huge distraction. They struggle with it, and meanwhile, a capable San Francisco Giants team opens up a big lead in the division. Now, there’s a rush to get Kershaw back, and he may not be 100%.
  • The Dodgers announce Clayton Kershaw has a minor injury to a little known muscle in his upper back, but fret not people, he’ll be back in a few weeks. They know this is unlikely, but they have faith that a capable crew of starting pitchers led by Zack Greinke, Hyun Jin Ryu and Danny Haren can hold the fort down in his absence. Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley are nearing readiness, and the offense scores plenty of runs for the Blue Crew to win plenty of games. Three weeks go by, the team is playing well, and the question comes up. Where’s CK on his path back? Well, the answer can now be, “He’s progressing nicely. We feel he’ll be ready soon but now is not the time to rush him. We’re gonna take our time with him, make sure he’s 100%. The team is playing great right now so we’re just going to take it one day at a time.”

And you know what? If the second scenario plays out, it will be accepted. They can even mix in a bogus sinus infection or bruised pinky toe for an extra week. 

Instead, they’ve opted for descriptions like “sub-maximal throwing program” to describe what he’s doing. Why not just say, “He’s going to play catch with the coaches to keep his arm loose.” Today is April, 6th and here’s how I see this going.

  • For the next two weeks or so, he continues his “sub-maximal” program and plays toss.
  • Around April 21st or so, he’s going to have a bullpen session where he throws maybe 20 pitches, all fastballs, under the close eye of coaches and team physicians. For the next two to three days, they’ll monitor how his body responds.
  • He’ll throw another bullpen session four or five days later, maybe even a simulated game, and throw about 40 pitches, working in a few off-speed pitches. 
  • Assuming he comes out of that with no setbacks, he’ll be sent out on a minor league rehab assignment. He won’t have seen any game action for a month now, and whatever arm strength he was able to build during an abbreviated spring training thanks to the Australia trip (nothing negative meant there at all. For real.) has been compromised. 
  • Seeing as he’s essentially starting spring training over, he’ll probably need at least three rehab starts. One where he goes three innings, one where he goes five, and another where they try to get him 100 pitches. 

Assuming I’m close to right, we are now in the middle of May. If any part of the way I see this going is delayed by some soreness, rain, you name it, we could be pushing the end of May. If I am right, we can probably expect to see Clayton Kershaw rejoin the Dodgers’ starting rotation around the beginning of June. 

Could I be wrong? Of course I could, and I sincerely hope that I am. I hope that I hear tomorrow or the next day that he’s feeling 100% and should be ready to come off the DL when the three weeks originally prognosticated are up. But I’m also realistic.

Do I think what I’m essentially accusing the Dodgers of doing is wrong? Not really. I get it. They are doing what I think they feel they need to do in order for the team to traverse the period of time without the planet’s best pitcher as best it can. 

Do you agree with me? Disagree? There’s a button below that enables you to comment. Please do so!



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