Hunter Pence isn’t playing, but that seems well explained. B.J. Upton’s absence from Tampa Bay’s lineup for the second time in four games, on the other hand, could and probably should be taken that a deal is close.
Also notable: there’s no Ian Desmond in the lineup for the Nationals tonight. Washington has long been considered a likely destination for Upton, and the Rays may well want a shortstop in return after Reid Brignac’s spectacular flameout this year.
You can bet we’ll be keeping an eye on things.
7:50 p.m. EDT update: Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times is hearing that there’s no deal currently in place for Upton. That doesn’t mean something isn’t close.
8:20 p.m. EDT update: Upton said he was told by Maddon it was just a day off and that “there’s nothing going on.” Upton has been slumping, but it’s still very odd to see him getting a second day off in four days, particularly since there’s no disciplinary reason for the move.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.