On the day the Felix Hernandez finalized his $175 million, seven-year contract with the Mariners, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw said neither his representatives nor the team have started contract talks for an extension for the southpaw.
Kershaw did say he would prefer to avoid the distraction of contract talks, especially during the season.
"I don't think I'm going to let it go into the season. There's nothing to say yet, but we'll see," Kershaw said Tuesday. "I'm not saying get it wrapped up or saying anything. I'm just saying that during the season I'm not going to talk about it."
Kershaw has led the major leagues in ERA in each of the past two seasons, and led the National League in WHIP the last two seasons as well. He won the National League Cy Young Award in 2011.
He compares to Hernandez quite well, and since Kershaw is younger he might even eclipse the $175 million earned by the Mariners' ace. But no matter the contract, Kershaw figures to be paid quite well, whether it is a record-setting amount or not, something Kershaw takes seriously.
"I think more than anything you've just got to live up to the expectation of being a baseball player every day. There is a reputation you have to uphold on and off the field," Kershaw said. "When there is a bigger contract, I think that's just more responsibility to your teammates, to the fans, and the organization to be a good steward of your money."
When asked if he had an idea in mind of what salary and length his next contract might be, Kershaw said, "I don't know, I really don't." But when pressed, and asked whether or not he had a figure in mind, Kershaw relented. "I have. I was just being polite."
But other than his own number crunching, Kershaw said outside speculation about his next contract doesn't concern him.
"It doesn't bother me because it's not true. It's just people talking," he said. "I don't love that it's in the paper, but at the same time I know that's the game. There's no sense in letting it bother you."
Kershaw said he would rather maintain focus to on-field matters.
"More than anything for the contract stuff, it's just a matter of getting to the spring and getting ready for the season. That's my only concern, getting ready for April 1. All that stuff will take care of itself."
Whether or not Kershaw will be starting on Apr. 1, opening day against the Giatns, isn't yet known, officially, though it seems like more of a formality that manager Don Mattingly has not yet revealed. Mattingly was asked if Kershaw would start on opening day, but didn't have an answer on Tuesday.
"We haven't really talked about it too much," Mattingly said. "I haven't said anything to him so I probably shouldn't say it to anyone else."
The hip impingement that caused Kershaw to miss a start in September and have another start pushed back two days is no longer a problem. Kershaw said he felt 100% on Tuesday. He modified his workout routine moderately to help his hip.
"I did a few strengthening things toward the beginning of the offseason," Kershaw said. "Once January hit, I kept going but it was more overall stability and strength, not necessarily focusing on one body part."
Kershaw is one of 14 pitchers who will throw bullpen sessions on Wednesday and Friday, while the other half of camp throws on Thursday and Saturday.