Clayton Kershaw struggles in Dodgers’ 4-1 loss

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The good news? Clayton Kershaw is back on a major league mound. It’s been a long 75 days, made even longer by the Dodgers’ constant retooling of the rotation. The bad news? Kershaw’s first appearance for the Dodgers looked like this:

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It’s not as if the Marlins have been particularly hot lately, going 7-3 in their last 10 games and placing fifth-lowest in total runs scored, but as with any return from an injury, it’s difficult to project any kind of success right out of the gate — even for the best in the game.

Kershaw delivered 66 pitches over three innings, getting ensnared in a long at-bat that was punished by a Jeff Francoeur double and even longer at-bats that, mercifully, culminated in several of the lefty’s five strikeouts. After J.T. Realmuto’s home run in the first inning, Kershaw let just one more run slip by on a line drive by Miami infielder Chris Johnson.

While Kershaw’s velocity was up, superseding even his season averages on his fastball, slider, and curveball, his command was shaky at best. Despite not allowing any walks, his belt-high sliders made easy targets for the Marlins’ lineup. It was hardly the dominant showing the Dodgers have come to expect from their ace, one for whom a nine-pitch inning is less of a fantasy and more of a reality.

Assuming that Kershaw doesn’t break out with another no-hit attempt in his next start, which should be Wednesday against the Yankees, the Dodgers are no longer in a place where they have to rest their hopes for a playoff berth on his shoulders. Getting a healthy ace back in the rotation on a consistent basis would bolster their place atop the NL West, but the contributions they’ve received from Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias, and Jose De Leon should keep them in the running while Kershaw focuses on getting back to his usual Cy Young Award-winning self.

Padres claim 2-time All-Star catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from Mets

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SAN DIEGO — The scuffling San Diego Padres claimed catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from the New York Mets.

The two-time All-Star was designated for assignment after playing in three games for the Mets. He went 1 for 6 with three strikeouts and an RBI, looking shaky at times behind the plate.

With the disappointing Padres (24-29) getting meager offensive production at catcher, they hope Sánchez can provide a boost. Austin Nola is batting .131 with three extra-base hits and a paltry .434 OPS in 39 games. His part-time platoon partner, second-stringer Brett Sullivan, is hitting .170 with four extra-base hits and a .482 OPS in 21 games since getting called up from the minors April 16.

Luis Campusano has been on the injured list since April 17 and is expected to be sidelined until around the All-Star break following left thumb surgery.

San Diego is responsible for just over $1 million in salary for Sánchez after assuming his $1.5 million, one-year contract.

The star-studded Padres have lost seven of 11 and are 3-3 on a nine-game East Coast trip. They open a three-game series at Miami.

San Diego becomes the third National League team to take a close look at the 30-year-old Sánchez this season. He spent time in the minors with San Francisco before getting released May 2 and signing a minor league contract a week later with the Mets, who were minus a couple of injured catchers at the time.

After hitting well in a short stint at Triple-A Syracuse, he was promoted to the big leagues May 19. When the Mets reinstated catcher Tomás Nido from the injured list last week, Sánchez was cut.

Sánchez’s best seasons came early in his career with the New York Yankees, where he was runner-up in 2016 AL Rookie of the Year voting and made the AL All-Star team in 2017 and 2019.

He was traded to Minnesota before the 2022 season and batted .205 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 128 games last year.

With the Padres, Sánchez could also be a candidate for at-bats at designated hitter, where 42-year-old Nelson Cruz is batting .245 with three homers, 16 RBIs and a .670 OPS, and 37-year-old Matt Carpenter is hitting .174 with four homers, 21 RBIs and a .652 OPS.