LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' youth movement hit another milestone Saturday when 20-year-old left-hander Clayton Kershaw was promoted to the Major Leagues from Double-A Jacksonville.
Kershaw is expected to make his debut in a Sunday start against the St. Louis Cardinals. To make room for Kershaw on the 40-man Major League roster, the Dodgers activated Esteban Loaiza from the disabled list and designated him for assignment. To make room for Kershaw on the 25-man active roster, reliever Yhency Brazoban was optioned back to Triple-A Las Vegas.
By starting Kershaw on Sunday, Chad Billingsley, who has back-to-back seven-inning starts, and Hiroki Kuroda, who pitched eight innings in his last start, will gain an extra day of rest. The Dodgers' fifth-starter spot actually comes up Tuesday, but the club thought it best that Kershaw debut at home rather than at Wrigley Field.
Kershaw was 0-3 with a 2.28 ERA, 47 strikeouts, 15 walks and 32 hits allowed in 43 1/3 innings at Double-A Jacksonville, where his erratic workload was designed to preserve his arm for a pennant-race run in Los Angeles. Such unconventional treatment is indicative of how special the Dodgers consider their 2006 first-round Draft pick.
Kershaw jumped onto the Major League radar during a stunning Spring Training this year. Brought over from Minor League camp March 9, Kershaw allowed a home run to the first batter he faced in an exhibition game, and didn't allow another run in 14 innings, striking out 19 with three walks.
Management sent Kershaw back to Double-A Jacksonville anyway, with a mandate that he pitch no more than 25 innings a month to ration his arm for a possible pennant-stretch role in Los Angeles. He has pitched only 11 innings since May 2, including a one-inning start on Thursday.
Removing Loaiza from the picture effectively ends his brief and unhappy stint as a Dodger. He was claimed off waivers last Aug. 29 from Oakland, having made only two starts after being disabled for four months following operations on his back and right knee.
By doing so, the Dodgers assumed the remaining $1.2 million of his 2007 salary, a $6.5 million salary for 2008 and a $375,000 buyout of his 2008 salary of $7.5 million. For that, the Dodgers got one win last year and one win this year. Technically, the club has 10 days to move him, but it most likely will eat the remaining obligation and grant him his release. He had been disabled with stiffness in the shoulder blade and made one rehab appearance, but his velocity still hasn't returned from 2006.
Brazoban made only two appearances after being recalled May 9 to replace Loaiza, allowing two runs in three innings. He is on the rebound from shoulder and elbow operations the previous two seasons.