Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw goes on injured list; Dustin May to make opening day start vs. Giants

The Dodgers ace was placed on the 10-day injured list with stiffness in his back just hours before the first pitch.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will not start in Thursday's opening day game against the Giants as scheduled, suffering from stiffness in his back and placed on the 10-day injured list, the team said Thursday.

The announcement was made just hours before the first pitch at Chavez Ravine, where right-hander Dustin May will instead take the mound for Los Angeles after being recalled.

May will be the first Dodgers rookie to start on opening day since Fernando Valenzuela's start launched Fernandomania in 1981.

Expectations are sky high for the Boys in Blue at the outset of this abbreviated 60-game season, which will be different from any other.

Fans were at Dodgers Stadium in spirit ahead of the first pitch at 7:08 p.m., with more than 4,500 cardboard cutouts occupying seats as spectators are not allowed in ballparks this season -- one of many safety protocols in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

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MLB established an extensive set of rules, outlined in over 100 pages, to keep players and stadium workers safe. League officials have suggested that players dress for the game at home to limit locker room activity. Temperature checks and questionnaires are required, and some will be tested for COVID-19 prior to games.

Extra tenting has been erected near the dugouts at Dodgers Stadium to allow for additional physical distancing for players and coaches.

Dodgers historian Mark Langill said this season will be notable for several reasons.

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"Before one of the most famous opening days -- 1947, Jackie Robinson breaks the color barrier; and then 1958, Dodgers and Giants move to the West Coast; 1962, Dodgers Stadium opens; even 2014, the Dodgers travel to Australia for the first game of the season -- that was all on the field, so this is gonna be different," Langill said. "But it's gonna be unique and it's gonna be the ultimate reality show because nobody knows what's gonna happen as far as the game itself. So we're all gonna have to sit back and watch."

The Dodgers are aiming to make the game day atmosphere as true to form as possible for the players and the fans watching at home. The scoreboard will be on, along with the stadium DJ, organist and public address announcer. Crowd noise will be added as well.

In a first for the league, teams will be allowed to put a Black Lives Matter stencil on the pitcher's mounds through the opening weekend.

Meanwhile, Mookie Betts -- fresh off a $365 million, 12-year contract -- and the rest of the Dodgers are hoping to put on a show against their division rival.

RELATED: Mookie Betts gets contract with Dodgers for $365-million through 2032
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Mookie Betts and the Los Angeles Dodgers struck baseball's first big-money deal since the coronavirus pandemic decimated the sport's economics.

The outfielder, who turns 28 in October, was acquired by the Dodgers from the Boston Red Sox on Feb. 10 along with pitcher David Price for three players.

Betts' deal is baseball's second-largest in total dollars behind the $426.5 million, 12-year contract for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout covering 2019-30. Betts' average salary of $30.42 million trails Gerrit Cole ($36 million), Trout ($35.5 million), Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon ($35 million each), Zack Greinke ($34.4 million), Justin Verlander $31.3 million), and new teammates Price and Clayton Kershaw ($31 million each).

A four-time Gold Glove winner, Betts won the 2018 AL MVP award en route to Boston's World Series title. He hit .295 with 29 homers and 80 RBIs last year, down from a major league-leading .346 average with 32 homers and 80 RBIs in his MVP season.

The rest of the Dodgers' lineup, including reigning National League MVP Cody Bellinger, is touted by some as the best in MLB. The Boys in Blue are looking to use their lineup to end the World Series drought.

RELATED: Dodgers' Cody Bellinger ready for 'once-in-a-lifetime' season

Bellinger hopes to pick up where he left off after a stellar performance in 2019 when he batted .305 with 47 homers and 115 RBIs for the NL West champions.

"Everything is going to be so weird this year. It's going to be fun," Bellinger said earlier this month during a video conference call. "It could be a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so I'm just taking advantage of what we got."

ESPN and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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