It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me…
All right, I'm no Nina Simone, but the Los Angeles Dodgers are feeling good.
Following back-to-back National League pennants, the Boys in Blue are back to continue that elusive quest for their first World Series championship since 1988.
Spring Training has come and gone, the preseason Freeway Series has past, and in a little over 24 hours, it will once again be time for Dodger baseball.
Despite many of the same faces on the roster, things will look slightly different for the Dodgers in 2019. For one thing, the man who has been on the mound for the frst game for the last eight consecutive seasons will not be there this year.
Clayton Kershaw's franchise record of eight straight starts on Opening Day will come to an end, as he gives way to another long tenured Dodger in left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Kershaw has spent time on the disabled list (now the injured list) in four straight seasons, and before he could even throw a pitch in a Cactus League game he developed shoulder inflammation and was shut down for a few weeks.
Kershaw has dealt with back and bicep issues in the past, but the shoulder soreness was something new for the 31-year-old veteran who signed a new three-year, $93 million contract extension in the offseason.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner received an anti-inflammatory injection in February, and since then has appeared to be on the road to recovery. Kershaw pitched to prospects in a simulated game at Angel Stadium on Monday before the second game of the Freeway Series with the Halos.
According to Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts and longtime pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, Kershaw walked away from the sim game with no issues, and has cleared the latest hurdle in his recovery as he gets built back up to start.
"It was a good step," Kershaw told reporters after the sim game on Monday. "I threw all my pitches and felt good."
Despite being headed in the right direction, Kershaw will begin the season on the injured list, and there is still consternation that his shoulder could be a lingering issue throughout the season.
The Dodgers certainly have the starting pitching depth to recover from another Kershaw injury this year, but will absolutely need him in October.
Needless to say, all eyes will be on Kershaw when he returns to the mound as fans have their fingers crossed that he can remain healthy and return to form.