Clayton Kershaw threw off a mound for the first time since his back injury

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Clayton Kershaw took the mound yesterday for the first time since being placed on the disabled list with an inflamed back muscle, throwing a 15-pitch bullpen session.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Kershaw threw only fastballs and “was throwing at less than maximum effort.” But at least it’s progress.

There’s still no timetable for Kershaw’s return to the Dodgers’ rotation and manager Don Mattingly told Ken Gurnick of that the team’s training staff has instructed the two-time Cy Young winner to keep his velocity low in throwing sessions in an effort to avoid a setback with his specific injury.

Once he’s cleared for game action he’ll need to go out on a minor-league rehab assignment, so Kershaw is still several weeks away from potentially coming off the disabled list.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

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No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.