Healed or not, Paul Konerko plans to return from hand injury

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Last week White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko insisted he’d play again despite a fractured bone in his left hand that threatened to end his 18th and final season early, and sure enough now he’s making plans for a late-season comeback.

According to Scott Merkin of MLB.com “the worst-case scenario continues to be Konerko playing at some point during the final four home games of the season against the Royals.”

Of course, in reality “the worst-case scenario” probably involves Konerko not being able to play again at all, although I suppose he could always go out there with an unhealed injury just to finish his career on the field. Or as he put it:

Once I know it’s good, it’s not like I have to go through a program of building it back up. If I can hit a pitched ball, I’ll be available the next night. Or that night. There will be some discomfort, but it’s enough that I can keep on it and not have to worry about it setting me back any more.

Konerko has yet to take any swings or do any baseball-related activities, so it’s tough to gauge his progress beyond his being insistent on returning.

Clayton Kershaw completes spring training with a 0.00 ERA

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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.