Aroldis Chapman’s recovery from facial fractures has progressed to the point that the Reds left-hander has been cleared to throw live batting practice, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
His expected return date has always been pegged as mid-May, but it’s possible Chapman might be somewhat ahead of that schedule one day short of a month since he was hit by a line drive. Either way, it’s good news.
Chapman threw a 25-pitch bullpen session earlier this week, but obviously given the nature of his injury actually facing live hitters is potentially a very big hurdle to clear next. Cincinnati’s bullpen has struggled in his absence, posting a 5.18 ERA that ranks second worst in the league ahead of only Philadelphia.
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.