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Thanks to the hot stove freeze, there’s time to sit back and explore some of the bigger question marks surrounding the Dodgers for 2022.

With Walker Buehler and Julio Urias atop the rotation, Dave Roberts and the Dodgers will have some decisions to make on who will fill out the remaining spots which will be a combination of Tony Gonsolin, David Price, and offseason acquisition Andrew Heaney. Mitch White and Andre Jackson, who tossed only 11.2 innings in his debut season last year, are both likely to level up their experience points with a few appearances next season. And then we come to long-time LA ace, Clayton Kershaw, who is still on the free-agent market.

In 2020, before the season began, Kershaw realized how much he still loved playing the game. And for anyone paying attention, it's easy to imagine the fierce competitor wanting to play a few more years of good major league ball before hanging up his cleats. Especially given he is only 15 wins shy of 200.

That said, he was injured on the field last season and never returned. His not wanting his career in baseball to end this way would be another reason why he may not be ready to call it quits.

However, the more significant aspect of this occasion is that it was his first elbow area ailment in his career. Kersh revealed that he had no damage to his elbow ligament (thankfully) but received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his left forearm in mid-October. He would then be out of commission for a few months before he could begin a light throwing program.

So, at this point, he still may not know where his arm will be for the 2022 season. Dodgers insider David Vassegh recently said that Kershaw is "still dealing with an arm issue," and while he "100%" expects him to return to LA for 2022, it's possible he won't start the season on the roster.

Back in December, dodgersnation.com, toyed with that idea: Could the left-hander take his time in returning to the Dodgers?

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WATCH: Should Clayton Kershaw Return Later in the Season?

Here's the key takeaway.

One bold prediction could see the 33-year-old possibly remain home for the first month or so of the 2022 season before pulling a 2007 Roger Clemens and making a mid-season return. … Such a move allows Kershaw more time to rest and recover from an October PRP injection into his injured forearm/elbow area and slowly build back up early in the spring. Moreover, it frees him and the Dodgers from the pressure of trying to make an opening day start.

In October, after receiving the PRP treatment, Clayton stated that he expects to be ready for spring training. However, he must be cautious because pushing himself to return too quickly may result in a lot more damage later in the season when his health and performance are most critical to the team's success.

Despite the old postseason narrative, the left-hander was obviously desperately missed last October.

Where'd this idea come from?

In 2007, Roger Clemens — then 44 years old — rejoined the Yankees and made his season debut in mid-June. The former ace helped New York secure a Wild Card berth by tossing 99 innings with the team. Despite Kershaw being about 10 years younger than that when the season begins, he hasn't surpassed 200 innings since 2015. In fact, he's only accomplished it once throughout that time (178.1 in 2019).

So, it's natural to believe that limiting Kershaw's innings (without it being an IL stint) would only benefit an often-injured ace like him. But, based on what we've learned about Clayton Kershaw throughout his career, if he's healthy, there's no way he's going to just sit there. He would feel like he's letting them down if he wasn't doing everything in his power to help lift them up.

Because that's what leaders do.