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05/23/08 1:56 AM ET

Kershaw could be called up to bigs

Lefty exits Minors start after one frame, prompting speculation

Dodgers phenom left-hander Clayton Kershaw had the kind of start for Double-A Jacksonville Thursday night that will only fuel speculation he's about to become a Major Leaguer.

Kershaw faced three Carolina Mud Cats, struck out two, then was yanked by manager John Shoemaker, completely healthy. By starting Thursday night, Kershaw is on schedule to start again Tuesday, which happens to be the next time the Dodgers need a fifth starter.

Beginning with Tuesday's game in Chicago, the Dodgers will need a fifth starter on almost a traditional five-day rotation through the All-Star break. The last time the spot came up Saturday in Anaheim, manager Joe Torre went with a tag-team of Chan Ho Park for four innings (one earned run), followed by Hong-Chih Kuo for four scoreless innings in a 6-3 win.

Kershaw, a first-round pick in 2006, jumped onto the Major League radar during a stunning Spring Training. Brought over from Minor League camp March 9, Kershaw allowed a home run to the first batter he faced in an exhibition game and didn't allow another run in 14 innings, striking out 19 with three walks.

But management sent Kershaw back to Double-A Jacksonville anyway, with a mandate that he pitch no more than 25 innings a month to ration his arm for a possible pennant-stretch role in Los Angeles.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.