GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Even though it was just one inning and 12 pitches, it was a good enough start for Clayton Kershaw.
The Los Angeles Dodgers ace helped begin the team’s exhibition season Saturday in a 5-3 win against the Dodgers’ spring training co-tenants, the Chicago White Sox.
The plan, as explained by manager Dave Roberts before the game, was to have Kershaw work only one inning. He dispatched the White Sox in order, retiring Tim Anderson on a popup, striking out Melky Cabrera and getting Jose Abreu on a ground ball. He was relieved by Alex Wood in the next inning.
“It was OK. I threw one changeup that was terrible. That’s what I got mad about,” Kershaw said after his outing before 8,474 fans. “I got behind every batter today. But the results were OK, I got three outs, I’ll take it for today and get ready for the next one.”
Kershaw said he will go two or three innings in his next start and likely go up one per outing from there. He is on track to pitch the April 3 opener at home against San Diego, tying Don Sutton’s franchise record of seven straight opening-day starts.
The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner was possibly headed to his best season last year when a herniated disk sidelined him from June 26 to Sept. 9. He returned in September and finished with a 12-4 record and 1.69 ERA. He pitched 149 innings, 13 short of qualifying for what would have been his fifth ERA title.
This first outing was shorter than usual because of the World Baseball Classic, which caused an earlier start to spring training.
“We communicated all winter so there’s no surprise for us where he’s at right now,” Roberts said. “If we wouldn’t have known his history we’d think nothing of it, he looks great. He obviously adjusted some of his offseason workouts but yeah, he looks great.”
Kershaw proclaimed that the back issue is “all good.”
“Every year is different,” he said. “I never want to take for granted it’ll be there when the season starts. When something doesn’t work in spring I’m going to stress out about it and worry about it until I fix it.
“I’m not just going to say, ‘Well, I’ll figure it out at some point,’ even though that might be the case.”
Left-hander Rich Hill, the likely No. 2 starter, is slated to pitch Sunday against Milwaukee and No. 3 Kenta Maeda on Monday against Colorado.
Roberts wouldn’t identify his starters for the fourth and fifth games.
Scott Kazmir and Hyun-Jin Ryu, left-handers returning from injuries, don’t figure to take the mound until later in spring training. Kazmir, who had 4.56 ERA in 26 starts, was hampered by neck and back injuries. Ryu had back surgery in 2015 and elbow surgery in 2016, and he has made just one appearances in two seasons.
Both pitched batting practice for the second time Friday and will make a third before game action.
“Ryu looks really good,” Roberts said. “There’s life in the zone. The changeup is there. The arm speed is there. He’s repeating the delivery.
Notes: 2B Logan Forsythe, acquired from Tampa Bay on Jan. 22, was the leadoff batter. “He’s got a DNA of getting on base,” said Roberts, who also might use Andre Ethier, Andrew Toles and Joc Pederson atop his batting order. … With Adrian Gonzalez sidelined because of inflammation in his right elbow, Rob Segedin was at first base and went 0 for 1.
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