Felix Hernandez was listed on Venezuela’s provisional roster when it was announced last month, but recent events have caused him to change his mind about participating in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. You can probably guess what impacted his decision.
This shouldn’t come as surprising news, as the Mariners and Hernandez are reportedly close to finalizing a record $175 million extension. Coming off four straight seasons with at least 232 innings pitched, the M’s would clearly prefer that Hernandez have his usual routine in spring training rather than ramp things up early in a hyper-competitive situation and risk potential injury. Given what they are investing in him from now until 2019, you can’t blame them for that.
Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.
Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.
Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.