The Cardinals announced Tuesday night, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that injured pitchers Jaime Garcia and Jason Motte have been cleared to begin minor league rehab assignments this weekend with Double-A Springfield.
Garcia is set to make the first of what will likely be several rehab starts on Sunday against the Double-A affiliate of the Rockies. He hasn’t appeared in a major league game since May 2013 because of chronic shoulder troubles and the Cardinals can’t be sure of what they’re going to get from him this year.
Motte is on his way back from Tommy John elbow surgery. At almost 12 months removed from the procedure, he’s hitting just 92-93 mph with his fastball. Motte averaged 96.8 mph with his fastball in 2012, and he could spend quite a bit of time in the minor leagues considering how much of his past effectiveness relied on throwing heat.
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.