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Clayton Kershaw has left shoulder surgery, hopes to return in mid-2024

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Three Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

It was plainly obvious down the stretch that Clayton Kershaw’s left shoulder was bothering him much more than he or the Dodgers were letting on. On Friday, Kershaw announced on Instagram he had surgery that will keep him out of action until at some point in the middle of 2024.

“This morning I underwent a surgical procedure to repair the gleno-humeral ligaments and capsule of my left shoulder,” Kershaw wrote on Instagram. “I am thankful for the expertise of Dr. ElAttrache who preformed the surgery. I am hopeful to return to play at some point next summer. Thanks for your prayers!”

After the Dodgers’ season ended, Kershaw told reporters in Arizona mentioned the possibility of further examination of his shoulder.

Kershaw missed six weeks on the injured list in July and August with what the Dodgers were calling shoulder inflammation. After his return, the left-hander posted a 2.23 ERA in eight regular season starts, but was also treated with kid gloves, given extra rest whenever possible. His final five starts, including Game 1 of the NLDS, came on six, 10, six, six, and six days rest.

The peripheral numbers down the stretch weren’t as good, with more walks, fewer strikeouts, lower fastball velocity and reduced command, and a 5.40 FIP. The results tried to even themselves out all at once in Kershaw’s disastrous postseason start against Arizona, in which everyone hit the ball hard and he allowed six runs while recording only one out.

Even after that start, the Dodgers and Kershaw insisted he was healthy, and would have started Game 4 on four days rest. But the Dodgers were swept, and that next start never came.

Kershaw entered free agency on Thursday, his third straight year of hitting the open market, which for him is a two-team field — either return to the Dodgers or go pitch at home for the Rangers. Kershaw devoting one of the four sentences of his statement to a potential summer return seems to take retirement out of the equation.

Whatever his decision, Kershaw and his wife Ellen plan to take their time to decide.