Clayton Kershaw has been scratched because of a lingering hip injury. (Ross D. Franklin / Associated…)
The Dodgers do not need scares right now, not at this time of the season, but there it is:
Clayton Kershaw has been scratched from Sunday’s start and is headed to New York to be examined by a hip specialist.
For Kershaw to be out now in the stretch drive, with only 17 games remaining, makes his injury look frighteningly serious.
Kershaw, 24, had to miss a key start against Giants last Sunday with the sore right hip following a cortisone injection. He came back to pitch well Tuesday in Arizona, holding the Diamondbacks to one run and three hits in seven innings.
The hip, however, continued to be a significant issue. And although Kershaw battled with Manager Don Mattingly to start Sunday in San Francisco, reality now seems to be setting in, and there was no argument this time.
“There was no fight,” Mattingly said. “He knows he can’t pitch with it.”
The Dodgers are uncertain when Kershaw might return and are waiting to make plans until the reigning Cy Young winner meets with Dr. Bryan Kelly in New York on Tuesday.
Stephen Fife will start Sunday in the series finale against the team the Dodgers are still chasing to capture the National League’s second wild-card berth, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Fife spent all of the season at triple-A Albuquerque, except for three midseason starts for the Dodgers (0-1, 2.16 ERA). Mattingly said if Kershaw was out for an extended period, he might go with a four-man rotation. The Dodgers are off the next two Mondays.
Neither Kershaw nor trainer Sue Falsone were made available to the media Saturday. Mattingly said it was impossible to speculate whether Kershaw might need surgery until after he meets with Kelly. Kershaw was already pitching with plantar fasciitis.
Mattingly said he would not put Kershaw’s long-term health in jeopardy, and if pitching could threaten further injury, he would not start Kershaw even if the season came down to a final game.
“He won’t pitch, I promise you that,” Mattingly said.
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