Clayton Kershaw has stiff back

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, missed his first scheduled bullpen session of spring training on Wednesday because of mild back stiffness, manager Don Mattingly said Thursday.

He is tentatively slated to throw on Friday instead. That would put Kershaw on track to stay with his original spring-training pitching schedule and, in turn, to be ready for his scheduled Opening Day start on April 5 in San Diego.

Kershaw is scheduled to make his Cactus League debut on March 9 against the Texas Rangers, but pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said that outing will really be Kershaw's second spring start because he will pitch on March 4 in either an intrasquad or "B" game.

The Dodgers don't begin Cactus League play until March 5, so in order for Kershaw to be properly aligned and his pitch count adequately built up for the season opener, an additional, less formal game will be set up for Kershaw a day ahead of that Cactus League opener.

Kershaw won the pitching equivalent of the Triple Crown last season, tying for the N.L. lead in wins by going 21-5 while leading the league with a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts. He was the first Dodgers pitcher to win the Cy Young since Eric Gagne in 2003 and the first Dodgers starter to win it since Orel Hershiser in 1988.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.