Clayton Kershaw pitched his second Cactus League start of the spring, and the reigning Cy Young Award winner has yet to give up a run. Kershaw struck out six in his four innings Wednesday night in Goodyear as the Dodgers beat the Reds 9-1.
"The last two innings definitely felt better than the first two," said Kershaw, who struck out four hitters in his final two frames after a 29-pitch second inning that saw him walk two batters. "Other than the second inning when I lost some rhythm a little bit I felt like I mixed my pitches well. I had a better changeup than I did the other day."
Kershaw will receive the 2011 Los Angeles Sportsman of the Year award from the L.A. Sports Council in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday night, but he won't miss any practice time. He will fly out tomorrow after workouts and return to Phoenix overnight, and will be ready for workouts on Friday morning.
Kershaw was helped on offense by home runs from A.J. Ellis and Adam Kennedy, who both hit their first long balls of the spring. Ellis, who hit an opposite field shot off Homer Bailey in the second inning, has a home run and a stolen base this spring. Asked if he had any predictions for the season like Matt Kemp, who predicted a 50/50 season for himself, Ellis quipped, "I'm going to join the three-three club."
Sands Still A Work In Progress
Jerry Sands has the unenviable task of both trying to make the opening day roster for the Dodgers and trying to hone his swing, which is still relatively new to him. Sands worked with Albuquerque Isotopes hitting coach John Valentin to completely re-tool his swing after he was sent back to Triple A.
Sands said the swing felt good for the last two to three months of the season, but that it was difficult during the offseason, hitting by himself, to perfect what to him is still a new process.
"It's just tougher learning how to pick my swing up, how to get my timing back with the new swing. With my old swing of the last three or four years, I knew what I had to do to get my timing back," Sands said on Wednesday. "With a newer swing, I'm not sure how to start and get going. There are little things I don't realize I am doing when I am, that with my old swing I would pick it up."
Sands, who entered Saturday with two singles in 14 at-bats and two walks this spring, had a single and two walks on Wednesday. Sands said he was still making some improvements with his swing and has felt good while swinging in the batting cages.
He also said he hasn't put extra pressure on himself trying to make the team as it is out of his control.
"I could come out here and do a lot of things right and play well, and still go back to Triple A because of the business side of it. If you start worrying about it, it's just going to put more and more pressure on you," Sands said. "If it happens it happens, and if not I just have to keep working hard and hope the opportunity will come up."
The Dodgers return home to Camelback Ranch on Thursday afternoon, hosting the Kansas City Royals. Chad Billingsley makes his third Cactus League start for the Dodgers, while Danny Duffy starts for Kansas City.
Home Runs: A.J. Ellis (1), Adam Kennedy (1)
WP - Clayton Kershaw (2-0): 4 IP, 1 hit, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
LP - Homer Bailey (1-1): 2 1/3 IP, 6 hits, 6 runs, 3 walks