Everything from a couple of months ago said that Japanese phenom Shohei Otani had his heart set on playing in the U.S., with the Dodgers, Rangers and Red Sox all pursuing him. However, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times is told by a source that Otani may remain in Japan.
Otani, an 18-year-old right-hander, was selected by the Nippon Ham Fighters in the first round of Japan’s draft in October, but he’s still free to come to the U.S. if he wants. Despite the new rules governing international signings, Otani seems likely to land a deal north of $20 million if he chooses to make the jump across the Pacific.
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.