I will be the very first to admit that when I first heard about Clayton Kershaw’s hip issues late last season, I was one uncomfortable Dodger fan, and I know I wasn’t the only one. I immediately had visions of Bo Jackson and notorious hot-headed slugger Albert Bell, whose baseball careers ended at ages 32 and 34 respectively because of hip issues. And then, of course, there is A-Rod, who underwent what was considered a relatively minor hip surgery two years ago and now needs a second hip surgery scheduled for mid-January that will most likely take him out for the entire 2013 season.
You would think that I would find solace in the fact that most baseball-related hip injuries affect hitters and not pitchers, but I can assure you that I find absolute no comfort in this whatsoever; not when we’re talking about arguably the best left-hander to come along since Sandy Koufax.
And while I do not think that Clayton Kershaw has a dishonest or malicious bone in his body, I am having a very difficult time accepting his claim that the hip issue that caused him to miss one start and delayed another last season is 100% healed and will not be a factor in the future; I just can’t get behind this.
I’ll also admit that I had pretty much forgotten about Clayton’s hip issue when he finished the 2012 season with two exceptional starts. But the recent emergence of A-Rod’s pending second hip surgery and even more recently, the Red Sox reluctance to sign catcher Mike Napoli because of his lingering hip issues has once again put Clayton Kershaw’s hip issue back into the spotlight, at least for me, that is.
Kershaw was diagnosed as having a torn acetabular labrum, and while this is as foreign to me as Latin or Greek or Farsi, I am educated enough to know that a torn anything isn’t good, and in most cases torn anythings usually do not heal all by themselves. I also know that Clayton is as tough of a competitor as was Sandy Koufax, who pitched the final season of his career in 1966 (one of the best seasons in MLB history by any pitcher) while in absolute pain every waking moment. As such, do you honestly believe that Clayton is going to complain to anyone, especially to his trainers or to his manager, that he is in too much pain to pitch? I don’t think so. Complaining simply isn’t in Kershaw’s DNA.
I’ll go along with Clayton’s and Dodger management’s claim that he is completely pain free right now and that there will be no limitations placed on him when pitchers and catchers report for spring training in a short six weeks, but here again, I will be the first to admit that Clayton’s torn anything is going to be at the forefront of my mind every single time he takes the mound – and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one on this either.