Kershaw says back injury no longer a concern

Kershaw says back injury no longer a concern

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw began his offseason throwing program Monday, convinced the herniated disk in his lower back, which sidelined him for 2 1/2 months this season, is healed.

"I had an injury and it's not injured anymore, so now you keep going," said Kershaw.

Two weeks after the birth of his second child, son Charley, Kershaw made a one-day trip from his Dallas home to the Winter Meetings to help promote the deal that makes his sponsor, Under Armour, the official supplier of MLB uniforms starting in 2020.

Before he left home, Kershaw said, he threw for the first time since the season ended in the National League Championship Series in Chicago.

"Threw today for the first time. Didn't hurt today, so that's good," he said.

He said his offseason conditioning will change slightly in the wake of the injury.

"I'm not having to subtract very much," he said. "It's different and just adding more stuff just to keep healthy. I think every player, as you get older, has to do that. Regardless of the back or not, that's what I'd be doing."

Kershaw arrived at the Winter Meetings three hours after teammate Rich Hill's new three-year, $48 million contract was announced. Hill mentioned Kershaw as a motivating presence and Kershaw said they exchanged texts.

"It's so much fun to watch Rich pitch," said Kershaw. "He cares, he wants to win and pitch well. That's awesome to have and you can't take that for granted. The guy, off the field, in the clubhouse, he's fun to talk to and I consider him a friend. I'm excited to have him back, for sure. His competitiveness is off the charts. Watching him on the field, it comes out every fifth day. It's like it's bottled up and kind of explodes. That works for him. It looks exhausting to me. But it works for him."

Kershaw also said he hasn't decided whether he will participate for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, but sounded hesitant.

"I can't really answer right now," he said. "Even though I'm 100 percent healthy, I don't want to put the team in a bad spot. You want to weigh everything. Being part of Team USA is a huge honor and I don't take it lightly by any means. But being a part of a Dodger team and being 100 percent healthy for a full season is something I take a lot of pride in and I feel like I owe it to the team. That's what you've got to weigh."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.