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MLB Los Angeles Dodgers

Offseason Concerns Linger for the Los Angeles Dodgers

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

The 2012 Los Angeles Dodgers season officially came to a close with a 5-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants. While it is disappointing that it’s all come to an end with no postseason on the horizon, Dodger fans have plenty of reasons to be excited for the future.

There are a few off-season issues they must get through before embarking on the 2013 campaign. Most pressing for them will be the health of key players.

Matt Kemp, arguably the Dodgers best player, just couldn’t seem to escape the injury bug this year. After injuring his hamstring in early May, he re-aggravated it running the bases later in the month, putting him out through the All-Star break.

He then hurt his shoulder after his gruesome run-in with the center field wall at Coors Field in late August, while also suffering a concussion. This injury was looked at as the main factor in his struggles late in the year as he just didn’t seem to have it at times.

Because of his shoulder injury, Kemp will undergo exploratory surgery to determine what exactly is wrong. It is unknown whether the shoulder needs to be cleaned up or if it will need to be repaired. That will be determined by the doctor once they get in there and get a good look at it.

Then there is also the health of starting pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley. Kershaw, who posted a paltry 14-9 record, still had a major league best 2.53 earned run average. He was shut down for two starts in September and there were growing concerns that he would be shut down for the rest of the year. Rumors of an impending hip surgery would have kept him out of the lineup until May of next year.

However, according to Dodgers trainer Sue Falsone, Kershaw will steer clear of the operating table and have a normal off-season, which is great news for Dodger fans. As the ace of the staff, his health is vital if the Dodgers intend on accomplishing anything.

As for Billingsley, it is still uncertain as to whether he will need Tommy John surgery, which would put him on the shelf for the entire 2013 season. He has started playing catch about two weeks ago and hopes to throw off the mound later this month. He will increase his intensity in his throwing and how he responds will determine if he will have surgery.

The Dodgers currently have seven starting pitchers on the roster: Kershaw, Billingsley, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, Joe Blanton, Ted Lilly & Josh Beckett.  So something’s gotta give. Blanton is headed for free-agency, and it is likely that someone will be traded. Of course, Billingsley’s arm will have a say in what the Dodgers do.

So, it’s off to off-season homes, families, and vacation spots for the Dodgers. It’s time to clear their heads, rest up, heal up and work on their game. There will be some new faces come March and other familiar faces may be gone. But one thing is for sure: next year, there will be no excuses.