PEORIA — Clayton Kershaw got his Cactus League started on Sunday with a scoreless inning in the Dodgers’ 2-0 loss to the Mariners, beginning the methodical yet necessary trek toward baseball that matters.
Kershaw needed only 11 pitches to retire all three batters he faced on Sunday, inducing a pair of ground outs and a fly ball that took a treacherous path in the wind but still ended up in the glove of Matt Kemp in left field.
Kershaw’s curveball was working.
“It felt better doing this than during batting practice last week,” Kershaw said. “With the crowd, facing a different team, it helps a little bit.”
Kershaw threw a simulated inning facing Dodgers hitters last Tuesday in camp, then on Sunday after his one inning against the Mariners he pitched another simulated inning in the bullpen in Peoria, facing three imaginary batters.
Presumably, they were all retired.
This is all preliminary of course, with Kershaw focused on getting ready for his opening day start on March 29. Everything leading up to that is just putting in work. Very necessary, if tedious, work.
“Just because you’ve had some success last year or something worked doesn’t necessarily mean it carries over. I wish that were the case but you have to just continually to try to work at it,” Kershaw said. “Not necessarily adding stuff new every year, but trying to figure out what worked last year and trying to carry that over as best you can.
“[Spring training is] definitely needed, that’s for sure. It’s a little bit different. It’s fun to get to pitch at Dodger Stadium.”
That opening day start is still 32 days away, with five, maybe six more Kershaw exhibition starts to go before the real thing. Manager Dave Roberts floated the idea of the club possibly skipping Kershaw’s final spring start, which is usually a shortened final tuneup for the regular season.
Kershaw said if that final start was skipped it would be news to him.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think I’ll probably still make that last start,” Kershaw said. “It’s usually scaled back.”
The Dodgers front office is generally pretty tight-lipped about such things, but with Kershaw able to opt out of his contract at the end of 2018, which would leave two years and $65 million on the table, the fact that general manager Farhan Zaidi said last week the club has had “open dialogue” with their ace pitcher was somewhat newsworthy.
Asked about those comments Kershaw, also notoriously private about such matters, said Sunday, “That’s a good way to put it.”
Just as Zaidi stopped short of confirming the club has talked contract extension with Kershaw, the pitcher did the same on Sunday.
“We just talk,” Kershaw said. “Farhan, Andrew [Friedman] and I have good communication, and we are all on the same page as far as everything is going.”
Fits to a tee
Corey Seager and Kyle Seager played in a game against each other for the first time ever on Sunday, and before the game Dodgers photographer extraordinaire Jon SooHoo captured this shot of Corey kissing his niece while her father Kyle held her. The t-shirt is fantastic:
Seager was 0-for-3 with a strikeout as the designated hitter against Seattle.
The Dodgers have another road game on Monday afternoon, facing the Rangers in Surprise (12:10 p.m. PT). Alex Wood starts for the Dodgers, with Mike Minor for Texas. No Dodgers television or radio for this game, though the Rangers radio broadcast can be heard through MLB Gameday Audio.