Dontrelle Willis and the Phillies made their one-year contract official yesterday, and in meeting with the local media Willis indicated that he expects his friend Jimmy Rollins to return to Philadelphia.
“[Rollins] was probably more excited about the deal than I was,” Willis told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s pretty surreal to come full circle. I think our families are more excited for this than we are.”
That almost makes it sound like Rollins is all but a done deal to re-sign and Gelb notes that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has been in regular contact with the shortstop’s agent since the winter meetings and “indications are that the two sides will eventually reach an accord.”
Willis and Rollins grew up in the same town and attended the same high school in California. They never played together, but it sounds like that’s about to change.
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.