2023 World Baseball Classic: Clayton Kershaw backs out of Team USA over reported insurance issues

Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw will not play for Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic as originally planned, he announced Friday. Kershaw is fit and healthy, and his exclusion from the roster is due to his struggle to “get an insurance claim for the tournament due to his injury history.” according to Fabian Ardaya and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Players must have insurance coverage to qualify for the WBC.

“I really wanted to be a part of this group, maybe it was my last chance to do it, so I really wanted to do it,” Kershaw told reporters at Friday’s spring training. “But it 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 turns 35 in March, has amassed an extensive injury history in recent years. During the pandemic era, he visited the injured list five times due to various illnesses, including twice due to back problems. Kershaw also missed time with knee, elbow and forearm problems.

During those IL appearances, Kershaw started 44 times over the last two seasons, and the Dodgers remembered his workload even longer. Indeed, he hasn’t thrown more than 180 innings in a season since 2015.

Team USA has lost two outstanding players since its roster announcement on Feb. 9. New York Yankees left-hander Nestor Cortez was forced to withdraw from the tournament earlier this week due to a hamstring injury. The Americans already seemed to have a meager pitching staff. Now manager Mark DeRosa looks set to resort to a rotation that includes some combination of Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Miles Mykolas, Merrill Kelly, Brady Singer and the newly added Kyle Freeland. (You can find the full list here.)

This edition of the WBC is due to start March 7th. This will be the first time the tournament has been held since 2017 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Americans will compete in the division along with Canada, Colombia, Great Britain and Mexico. The top two teams in the pool will advance to group play.


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