LOS ANGELES — Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is headed to the disabled list after his latest back injury.
The All-Star left his start against the Atlanta Braves after two innings on Sunday because of right low back tightness.
Manager Dave Roberts said Kershaw felt something on his last warm-up pitch going into the second inning.
“Just felt a little something in my back that wasn’t normal,” a subdued Kershaw said.
After a couple of practice pitches in front of a team trainer, Kershaw resumed facing Tyler Flowers with two outs and walked him. He struck out Matt Adams to end the inning and headed into the clubhouse.
“He couldn’t get extended. The aggression wasn’t there,” catcher Austin Barnes said. “I saw it for a couple pitches and it was kind of messed up.”
From behind the plate, Barnes could tell something wasn’t right.
“It looked like something was going on in his head, it looked like something in his eyes,” Barnes said. “I think it was on his mind for sure. He didn’t want to hurt more.”
Kershaw struck out two and walked one on 21 pitches.
The left-hander was expected to see a doctor and undergo tests later Sunday.
“It is a DL situation,” Roberts said. “It will take 10 days regardless.”
Kershaw is 15-2 with a 2.04 ERA. The NL West-leading Dodgers are 19-2 when he starts this season, including winning their last 15 games.
“Hopefully, he’s all right,” Barnes said. “Last year, he came back and was pitching in the playoffs. Hopefully it’s not too serious.”
Kershaw was sidelined for 2 ½ months last year with a herniated disk in his back. Kershaw didn’t need surgery and returned to pitch the Dodgers into the NL Championship Series, where they lost to the eventual world champion Cubs.
“I’ve done just countless hours of back maintenance and rehab and everything just trying to stay healthy, and felt really, really good up to this point, so there’s definitely some frustration,” he said.
Kershaw decided not to pitch for Team USA in this year’s World Baseball Classic, saying he owed it to the Dodgers to remain healthy for an entire season.
“There wasn’t any shooting pain down the leg or the sensations that he felt last year, so that’s encouraging,” Roberts said, “but what he means to our ball club and his history, there’s some pause.
“From what I understand, it’s more muscular, so that sharpness he felt last year is not what he felt today. The scans could prove different.”
The Dodgers also lost starter Brandon McCarthy to the DL with a blister.