Dodgers ace Kershaw to miss start
LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw will miss his scheduled start for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the San Diego Padres this weekend because of an inflamed muscle in his back.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner had an MRI on Wednesday that showed the swollen muscle in his left upper back. Kershaw had complained of tightness while throwing at a workout on Tuesday.
The team said Kershaw’s next start will be decided by his progress while throwing in the next week.
The Dodgers open the North American portion of their schedule at San Diego on Sunday. They began the season with two victories over Arizona in Australia last week. Kershaw started the first game Down Under, winning 3-1.
Angels cut Blanton, owe him $8.5 million
PHOENIX, Ariz. — The Los Angeles Angels have granted right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton his unconditional release, but will still have to pay him $8.5 million.
The Angels made the move Wednesday.
The 33-year-old Blanton struggled in spring training with a 7.08 ERA in five appearances over 20 1/3 innings. He was 2-14 last year and sent to the bullpen in midseason.
The Angels will absorb Blanton’s contract and pay him $7.5 million this year, with another $1 million to buy out the $8 million club option for 2015.
Blanton’s departure leaves the Angels with 39 players on their 40-man roster and takes him out of competition for a bullpen roster spot. The team’s starting rotation appears set with Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs.
Rangers’ Darvish has no structural damage
SURPRISE, Ariz. — The Texas Rangers say ace Yu Darvish has no structural damage in his stiff neck but will likely begin the season on the disabled list.
Darvish was examined Wednesday by Dr. Keith Meister in Dallas. The right-hander will start a throwing program on Saturday.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels says he expects Darvish will be put on the 15-day DL. The Rangers open Monday at home against Philadelphia.
Darvish led the majors in strikeouts last year. With him out, Tanner Scheppers will start the season opener. Scheppers will be making his first big league start after 115 relief appearances.
The Rangers said Nick Martinez will be their No. 5 starter to begin the season. He has pitched in just five games above Class A.
Federer loses to Nishikori in Sony quarters
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Roger Federer squandered a big lead and lost to No. 20-seeded Kei Nishikori 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the Sony Open.
Federer was up a service break twice in the second set but couldn’t close out the victory. He lost serve five times and committed 39 unforced errors.
Nishikori’s opponent Friday will be three-time champion Novak Djokovic, who benefited from an erroneous call in the pivotal game to beat Andy Murray 7-5, 6-3. The semifinal berth is Nishikori’s second in an ATP Masters 1000 tournament, and his first in 2½ years.
Earlier, Li Na became the first Chinese woman to reach the Key Biscayne semifinals when she beat Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 7-5.
Li’s opponent today will be Dominika Cibulkova, who erased three match points in the second set — one when a call was overturned via replay — and beat Agnieszka Radwanska 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3.
Six-time champion Serena Williams will play five-time runner-up Maria Sharapova in the other semifinal.
By wire sources