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Clayton Kershaw struggles, Seth Rosin shines in Cactus League opener

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE -- The Dodgers fell in their Cactus League opener 4-1 to the Diamondbacks on Wednesday afternoon at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. The game was a tale of contrasts between two pitchers.

Clayton Kershaw, the highest paid player in baseball by average annual salary, the lock of all locks to make the Dodgers roster, struggled on Wednesday, while Rule 5 pick Seth Rosin, trying to get noticed on a staff full of guaranteed major league contracts, pitched quite well.

Both pitched two innings Wednesday, and the story for both was their off-speed pitches.

Kershaw allowed three runs on five hits in his two innings, and was generally hit hard during his appearance.

"I wasn't throwing the ball where I wanted to. There were some off-speed pitches I needed to throw better; the one to [Miguel] Montero that I struck him out on, even that was up," Kershaw said. "There's just a lot to work on."

The Dodgers have been in the process of overhauling Rosin's delivery since acquiring him from the Phillies, via the Mets, in the Rule 5 Draft in December. It's still a work in progress, but the results are starting to show.

Rosin struck out five of his seven hitters faced, including four in a row at one point, and allowed just one hit in his two innings. This isn't Rosin's first big league camp - he opened in big league camp with the Giants in 2012 - but with Wednesday being the first game he felt his nerves before the game.

"I had butterflies, especially when I heard my name called to get loose. I had all three pitches going well for me tonight, with pretty good control," Rosin said. "I pride myself in being a strike-thrower, and not getting to a three-ball count. Those are my biggest pet peeves, walks and three-ball counts."

While the fastball and slider were working for Rosin, it was his changeup that was most effective.

"I'm trying to establish that as my out pitch. [Bullpen coach] Chuck Crim has given me tons of confidence with that," Rosin said. "We're working on that a lot, working on my mechanics daily. Everything is feeling like it's getting better each day. Hopefully I can continue that trend, and keep improving."

As expected, given the mountainous difference in major league track records between the two pitchers, manager Don Mattingly's assessment of the performances of Kershaw and Rosin were accordingly different after the game.

"With Clayton early, it's just a matter of getting his work," Mattingly said.

Kershaw threw 42 pitches on Wednesday, including 26 for strikes, then threw about 15 pitches in the bullpen afterward. That will be the norm for the starting pitchers the first time through the rotation, with an inning or 15 pitches getting added the next time out.

Mattingly liked what he saw with Rosin, but given the calendar still says February had a healthy dose of caution mixed with his optimism.

"I thought he threw the ball good. We're not going to judge anybody on one outing, but he made a good first impression," Mattingly said. "It's the great part of spring, we get a chance to take a look at a lot of guys, including guys we don't know real well yet. Guys get to see what they look like out in competition."

Up next

Zack Greinke gets the start for the Dodgers on Thursday against the Diamondbacks at Camelback Ranch. Arizona has a split squad on Thursday, and will have Randall Delgado start against Los Angeles.

Wednesday particulars

Home runs: none

WP - Brandon McCarthy (1-0): 4 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

LP - Clayton Kershaw (0-1): 2 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Sv - Josh Collmenter (1): 3 up, 3 down