Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw will not pitch for Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic as originally planned, he announced Friday. Kershaw is hearty and hale, and his removal from the roster stems from his struggle to "secure an insurance claim for the event because of his injury history," according to Fabian Ardaya and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Players must have insurance coverage to be cleared to participate in the WBC.
"I really wanted to be a part of that group, probably my last chance to do it, so I really wanted to do it," Kershaw told reporters at spring training Friday. "But just didn't work out for a number of reasons. Disappointing, but that's OK, I'll be ready for the season and ready to go."
Kershaw, who will celebrate his 35th birthday in March, has compiled an extensive injury history in recent years. During the Pandemic Era, he's made five trips to the injured list for a variety of ailments, including twice with back issues. Kershaw has also missed time because of his knee, elbow, and forearm.
Around those IL stints, Kershaw has started 44 times over the last two seasons, and the Dodgers have been mindful of his workload dating back even longer than that. Indeed, he hasn't thrown so many as 180 innings in a campaign since 2015.
Team USA has now lost two notable starters since announcing its roster on Feb. 9. New York Yankees southpaw Nestor Cortes was forced to withdraw from the tournament earlier this week because of a hamstring injury. The Americans already appeared to have a lean pitching staff. Now, manager Mark DeRosa seems likely to resort to a rotation that includes some combination of Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Miles Mikolas, Merrill Kelly, Brady Singer, and recent addition Kyle Freeland. (You can find the full roster here.)
This edition of the WBC is scheduled to begin on March 7. It'll be the first time the tournament has been played since 2017 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Americans will be competing in a division alongside Canada, Colombia, Great Britain, and Mexico. The top two teams in the pool will advance beyond group play.