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Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw ‘ready’ for opener despite rough spring

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Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was hoping Clayton Kershaw could complete five innings in his final tune-up start before Opening Day on Friday, perhaps even log some pitches in the sixth. Instead, Kershaw recorded 10 outs and was charged with eight earned runs.

His Cactus League ERA: 10.22.

“It hasn’t been good, for sure,” Kershaw said after the Dodgers’ 11-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics from Camelback Ranch in Phoenix. “But tonight I actually felt like there were some pitches that were better. It’s good to know it’s in there. At times I felt like I knew what I was doing, so that’s good.”

Kershaw surrendered a combined 14 runs (13 earned) on 17 hits and three walks in 7 1/3 innings over his last two Cactus League starts, though he pitched in a “B” game in between. On Friday, six days before he pitches on the road against the Colorado Rockies to open the 2021 season, Kershaw gave up three runs in the second and two more in the third, then allowed five of the first six batters to reach base in the fourth before exiting with the bases loaded and one out and the Dodgers trailing 7-0.

Roberts, who named Kershaw his Opening Day starter for the 11th consecutive time 12 days earlier, downplayed the line score.

“I thought the pitching was good,” Roberts said. “The results weren’t good, obviously. There were some misses to the big part of the plate. But I thought the curveball was good, I thought the slider wasn’t there tonight, but I thought the fastball was there. There were some near-misses, but the life to it was good. When you’re talking about a regular-season big league ballgame, there’s scouting that goes into it. Right now it’s getting the pitch count up, and that’s what we did.”

Kershaw also struggled in spring training of 2014, allowing 15 runs in 14 2/3 innings, then went on to win the National League MVP Award as well as his third Cy Young. Shortly thereafter, Kershaw’s fastball velocity steadily began to decline before re-establishing some life in 2020, when Kershaw posted a 2.16 ERA in 10 regular-season starts and helped lead the Dodgers to the World Series.

Kershaw, 33 and entering the final year of his contract, said he has felt good physically this spring.

Will he be ready when the games start counting?

“I don’t have a choice, so I’m gonna be ready,” Kershaw said. “I’m excited to get going. I really am. I’m excited to get there and have that adrenaline, those butterflies, and get going again.”

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New York Yankees SS Gleyber Torres to miss second straight game, sources say

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — New York Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres, who was held out of Wednesday night’s game out of “an abundance of caution,” will not play in Thursday’s series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, sources told ESPN.

The Yankees have confirmed seven cases of COVID-19 among their coaching and support staff, and manager Aaron Boone said the team was waiting for the MLB and MLB Players Association joint committee to review the results of Torres’ testing.

“Essentially, the joint committee is waiting, because we’ve had so many tests done, waiting on some test results to still come back,” Boone said before the Yankees’ 1-0 victory over the Rays on Wednesday. “With all that’s going on with our team, out of an abundance of caution, we’re holding him out tonight.”

Boone added: “I know everyone’s going to read into that, but hopefully it’s nothing. It’s more just getting all the information.”

The Yankees have said that pitching coach Matt Blake, third-base coach Phil Nevin and first-base coach Reggie Willits have tested positive for COVID-19.

Six of the seven people who have tested positive are asymptomatic, Boone said, adding that a number of test results were pending. All seven people who tested positive were vaccinated for COVID-19.

“I think one of the things we’re seeing is that being vaccinated en masse like we are, we’re seeing the vaccinations also kind of blunt the effects of the virus,” Boone said. “I feel like in a lot of ways, because we’re vaccinated, we’re kind of good and able to deal with this. So there’s a little bit of a frustrating part there, in all the testing that we’re going to do.”

All members of the Yankees’ traveling party have been tested at least three times each since Tuesday.

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Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. leaves game with ankle injury

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Atlanta Braves star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. left Thursday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays because of an apparent injury to his left ankle.

Acuna, who leads the majors in home runs, suffered the injury in the seventh inning while running to first base on a grounder. He landed awkwardly on his left foot after passing the first-base bag and immediately fell to the ground in pain.

After being examined by the Braves’ medical staff, Acuna eventually limped off the field under his own power. The Braves have not officially announced a diagnosis for Acuna’s injury.

Acuna, 23, led off the bottom of the first inning with his major league-leading 12th homer of the season. The former All-Star and NL Rookie of the Year also leads the Braves in batting average (.302), RBIs (24) and stolen bases (6).

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Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto placed on COVID-related IL

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Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto has been placed on the COVID-related injury list ahead of Thursday’s game against Washington, the team announced.

The Phillies recalled catcher Rafael Marchan from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Realmuto, who signed a five-year deal with Philadelphia this offseason that has the highest average annual value ($23.1 million) for a catcher in MLB history, is hitting .314 with four home runs and 16 RBIs this season.

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