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    Dodgers Will Smith and Clayton Kershaw named to All-Star team
    • July 2, 2023

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Validation delayed was not validation denied for Will Smith.

    The Dodgers catcher was named to his first All-Star team Sunday as a reserve, joining left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who was named to the National League’s pitching staff for the game July 11 in Seattle. Three Dodgers — Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and J.D. Martinez — were voted into the starting lineup.

    For Kershaw, it is his 10th All-Star selection, tying Pee Wee Reese for the franchise record. He finished third in the player voting among starting pitchers behind Zac Gallen and Marcus Stroman — although he is unlikely to participate in the game due to a sore shoulder.

    Smith finished behind Braves catcher Sean Murphy in both the fan and player voting. His first All-Star selection comes just a few months after he played for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

    “Obviously, the dream as a kid is to make an All-Star team. So it’s an honor. I’m excited. Just happy to be able to go,” Smith said.

    “Hopefully it’s the first of many All-Stars and hopefully I’ll get to play in the World Baseball Classic again. Obviously, the WBC was a great experience and I’m sure this will be too.”

    It’s an experience Smith probably played well enough to earn in 2021 or 2022, but he was left off the team.

    “I mean, yes and no,” Smith said when asked if this year’s selection validated his standing among MLB catchers. “For me, I don’t really keep going on that stuff (as motivation). I just go out and try to help the team win. I kind of already knew I had the respect of my peers from the WBC and all that.”

    Smith was a finalist for the start at catcher but was beaten by Braves catcher Sean Murphy in the second phase of fan voting.

    “I think he deserved it,” Smith said. “His numbers were a little better, so congrats to him. I’m happy for him. Obviously I wanted to be in there as the starter. But if you don’t like it, you just have to play a little better.”


    Kershaw threw in the outfield again Sunday morning and “there was progress,” according to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. But there is no decision yet on whether Kershaw will start Monday or go to the Injured List.

    Roberts said on Saturday that a decision would need to be made Sunday because of the ramifications for the rest of the team’s starting rotation.

    “There’s some things that we have to think through if he starts, if we give him an extra couple extra days to kind of kick the can,” Roberts said. “So right now, for me, watching him throw the baseball — he didn’t throw a ‘pen (off the mound), didn’t spin the baseball (throw curves or sliders) but there was progress. He felt better. So that’s encouraging.”

    Kershaw would not comment on his throwing session or status Sunday. But his desire to pitch even with a sore shoulder appears to be putting the Dodgers in a bind.

    If his start is pushed back (meaning he would only make one more before the All-Star break), the Dodgers would need a fill-in starter Monday. Right-hander Michael Grove will meet the team in LA, Roberts said, and be available to pitch “whether it’s to start or to come in” (out of the bullpen). But Grove was just sent down on Thursday and can’t be recalled so quickly unless he replaces someone going on the Injured List.

    “That’s where it gets a little bit muddy because of roster management as far as 26 players,” Roberts said, though he added the Dodgers have “softened a tick” on pushing Kershaw’s start back.

    “But that’s still very unlikely. … It’s most likely either tomorrow or a potential IL. And I think that for us, appreciating the schedule, the All Star break coming up, potential games lost, that wouldn’t be lost because of the break — if there is any time for us to do this, and to give him a little re-set, this would be it.”

    Selling that idea to Kershaw could be the reason the Dodgers have “kicked the can” on an IL decision.

    “Obviously, Clayton expects to make all of his starts and that’s what makes him special,” Roberts said. “But I think that having the conversation and trying to appreciate the shorter and the long term of the rest of the season is important.

    “I think that you’ve got guys that are lined up to pitch that are throwing well, that feel good physically, and to continue to stay the course I think is important and also having a guy that’s not going to pitch — roster, reliever, all that stuff sort of matters to winning baseball games.”


    Pirates (RHP Mitch Keller, 9-3, 3.34 ERA) at Dodgers (TBA), Monday, 7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA, 570 AM

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    ​ Orange County Register