Kershaw eager to begin rehab from back injury

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LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw wants to pitch again right away. He knows his doctors will have a more patient plan.

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ three-time Cy Young winner received an epidural for lower back pain Thursday and was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a disc herniation the following day. He rejoined the ballclub on Saturday, already eager to find out when he’ll get back on the mound.

“I feel a little better now,” Kershaw said when asked how his body responded to the epidural. “I think it’s still pretty early to tell. It usually takes 3-to-5 days, but today’s the third day. I’m starting to get a little relief.”

Unbeaten in his 10 previous starts, Kershaw (11-2, 1.79) was tagged for four runs and nine hits over six innings in a 4-3 loss to the Pirates in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

“I definitely didn’t do it on one pitch or anything like that,” he said. “I think it was probably just a progression.

“In the game Sunday I felt fine, and then on Monday it started getting a little bit worse. It was probably time at that point to get it checked out.”

Kershaw returned to Los Angeles from Milwaukee on Wednesday for an examination with Dr. Robert Watkins. His follow-up exam was scheduled for Saturday night, but he wasn’t thrilled with the wait.

“Yeah, I have a plan, but I haven’t seen Dr. Watkins for a follow-up,” Kershaw said. “I’ll see him around gametime (Saturday), and talk about a process, a program, and what he thinks, and go from there.”

Until Monday, Kershaw had chalked up his lower back stiffness to the rigors of playing major league baseball.

“It didn’t really affect me pitching,” he said. “It was just kind of a little bit of a grind at times to get to that point, but once the game started it didn’t really affect me pitching.”

When asked how long his back has been a bother, Kershaw said: “It’s tough to say. I feel like if you ask anybody in the clubhouse and they’ll say, `Oh, my lower back is a little stiff today.’ So I think everybody goes through that, and I didn’t think mine was any different.”

Kershaw said the pain was “not sharp” but difficult to describe, saying, “It’s just in my back. No pain down my legs or anything like that, which is a good sign.”

Kershaws spent almost six weeks on the disabled list to start the 2014 season, an experience he’s not eager to go through again.

“I’m going to be very impatient,” he said. “I’m going to try and pitch tomorrow.

“The DL sucks. There’s no getting around it. It’s awful. … You just feel like, whether you do or not, you just feel like you’re letting the team down by not pitching. It’s just the way it is. You’ve just got to get through it.”

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.