Clayton Kershaw made his final tuneup start on Saturday before opening day, but the left-hander wasn't too pleased his his final start of the spring. Kershaw allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings in the Dodgers' 9-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale.
Kershaw said after his last outing that he was having trouble with his slider, and that continued on Saturday.
"It was better today. Some were better and some weren't. I didn't leave any up, but the ones that were for strikes got hit," Kershaw said. "I guess there was a little improvement, but not as much as I'd like."
Kershaw said he physically felt 100% and that he would be ready to go on Thursday at Petco Park in San Diego, but that didn't stop him from being dissatisfied from Saturday's outing, even though it was a spring training game.
"I'd like to pitch well no matter when I go out there, it's no fun to pitch bad. But it doesn't count until April 5 so hopefully all these bad ones are out of my system," Kershaw said.
In 22 innings this spring, Kershaw allowed 19 hits and six runs for a 2.45 ERA, with eight walks and 16 strikeouts.
"The only thing I worry about Kersh is trying too hard," said manager Don Mattingly. "The only thing I worry about with any time is trying to put too much pressure on himself to be perfect, and just not letting it happen."
Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt liked the competitiveness of the staff ace, adding, "That's what makes him so good, he's never satisfied."
"My arm feels good and I'm ready to pitch in the season, those are the positives," Kershaw said. "The negatives are that I don't want to give up any runs and I gave up some runs."
"I think he's ready," said Mattingly.
After the game, Trent Oeltjen was optioned to minor league camp. That leaves 36 players in major league camp, including 18 pitchers and 18 position players.
More importantly, aside from definitively answering the question of "does Oeltjen have options remaining?," that leaves the Dodgers with little wiggle room on the 40-man roster. They will open up one spot by placing Ronald Belisario on the suspended list, allowing them to add one non-roster invitee to the active roster but likely no more.
That means one of Josh Fields, Luis Cruz, and Scott Rice could make the team, but likely not more than that.
- Matt Angle hit his first home run of the spring in the eighth inning, a two-run shot off of minor league left-hander Keith Hessler.
Adam Kennedy went 0-for-2 with a walk as the designated hitter in an intrasquad game against Triple A players back at Camelback Ranch, his first game action in a week since suffering a light right groin pull last Sunday. Mattingly said Kennedy felt good running out of the batters box and that the next step for his reserve infielder is to play in a major league game either Sunday or Monday.
- Steven Ames, the Dodgers' 17th round pick in 2009 who struck out 69 batters in 48 innings between Class A Rancho Cucamonga and Double A Chattanooga last season, saw his first action of the spring on the major league side, pitching a scoreless eighth inning with a walk and a strikeout.
- Old friend Takashi Saito, now with Arizona and about to begin his seventh big league season, pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the Diamondbacks.
- While we were visiting in the press box with former Dodgers VP of Communications Josh Rawitch, now with the Diamondbacks, a foul ball off the bat of Andre Ethier came into the box and struck Rawitch in the groin. The longtime PR man is day-to-day.
The Dodgers and Diamondbacks face off again on Sunday, this time at Camelback Ranch. Chad Billingsley gets the start for the Dodgers in their Cactus League finale, facing Daniel Hudson for Arizona.
Matt Guerrier is also scheduled to pitch for the Dodgers on Sunday.
Home Runs: Matt Angle (1); Jason Kubel (3)
WP - Ronald Belisario (2-0): 4 up, 4 down
LP - Craig Breslow (0-1): 1 IP, 4 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout