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Clayton Kershaw to be placed on 15-day DL

Inflammation in Kershaw's upper back will cause him to miss at least the first week of the domestic portion of the regular season.

Cameron Spencer

ANAHEIM -- Clayton Kershaw will open the domestic portion of the Dodgers' regular season on the 15-day disabled list with back tightness. The left-hander felt something in his back while throwing before Saturday night's Freeway Series game against the Angels in Anaheim.

It is the first stint on the disabled list of Kershaw's career.

"I can't pitch right now, so I'm going to have to take a few extra days," Kershaw said. "It's frustrating. Right now, it's just not getting better fast enough."

An MRI exam on Wednesday showed inflammation in the Teres Major muscle in the left-upper part of Kershaw's back. He was scratched from his scheduled Sunday start in San Diego and the plan was for him to start in Friday's home opener against the Giants, but that won't happen now.

Kershaw was throwing off flat ground in right field with trainer Stan Conte earlier Saturday, gradually increasing the intensity and distance of his throws. Once he felt something, on the 27th throw, he immediately ceased throwing.

"We have to save Clayton from Clayton. If it was up to him, I'm sure he'd want to go farther. We can't allow him to do that," manager Don Mattingly said. "He's getting better, but it's not at a point where we can go any farther. It kind of tells you he's hit a ceiling at this point, and had to stop."

Kershaw will take Sunday off, but will continue his throwing program on Monday. At this point, there are no plans for any further examinations.

"It's one of those things that if it doesn't hurt you push it, and if it does hurt you have to stop. It's not always easy for me to do, but I'm trying to do the right thing," Kershaw said. "I don't feel like a part of the team when you're hurt, so it's not a good feeling."

Because Kershaw last pitched on March 22 in Australia, the Dodgers can backdate the disabled list to March 23. The earliest date Kershaw could be activated is April 7, an off day for the team. Mattingly said that while that played a factor in the DL decision, it doesn't necessarily mean Kershaw will be ready to pitch against the Tigers on April 8.

"If it was going to be 15 full days from right now, we'd probably be looking at it a little differently," Mattingly explained. "I don't want to set April 7 as a day, but we just know he can't go Friday."

Hyun-Jin Ryu, who will start on Sunday in San Diego, now gets the call in Friday's home opener as well, on full rest. He will have started three of the Dodgers' first six games.

The Dodgers will have a decision to make on Saturday, April 5 against the Giants. They could activate Josh Beckett from the 15-day disabled list. Beckett will throw simulated innings on Monday's off day in San Diego to stay on rotation.

"We have Josh set up to be ready the way we need him if necessary," Mattingly said.

Or they could give Paul Maholm the start, which would keep Beckett on the DL for a little while longer and allow the club to carry an extra relief pitcher for a few more games.

"[Maholm is] ready right now to start," Mattingly said. "He's a lot more ready to start than to relieve."

In addition to placing Kershaw on the disabled list, the Dodgers have optioned Jose Dominguez to Triple-A Albuquerque, essentially finalizing the 25-man roster barring any injuries tonight. I'll have more on that shortly.