PHOENIX -- Dodgers Nation breathed another sigh of relief Monday when Clayton Kershaw threw to hitters for the first time this spring and afterward said he felt fine.Alternating on the mound with Kershaw on Monday was Alex Wood, who also returned from injury (elbow surgery) last season and is determined
PHOENIX -- Dodgers Nation breathed another sigh of relief Monday when Clayton Kershaw threw to hitters for the first time this spring and afterward said he felt fine.
Alternating on the mound with Kershaw on Monday was Alex Wood, who also returned from injury (elbow surgery) last season and is determined to earn back a spot in the starting rotation after being limited to 60 1/3 innings in 2016.
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After Kershaw, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers' rotation is a dogfight. Even if Julio Urias is held back in extended spring training to defer innings, Wood will be competing with Scott Kazmir, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, Brock Stewart and Thomas Stripling.
Wood looked sharp in his two innings Monday and said the mechanical adjustments he made just before his injury have carried over.
"Mechanically, it's probably the best I've felt in years," said Wood. "I felt like I made big strides last year being where I had always been. I strengthened my front side during the offseason and it's helped my direction, and I think it could up my velocity a tick or two. I already see it."
"This was my first little hurdle. We'll do a few things to help my recovery, and I've already seen the benefits of that. My stuff, mechanically, I'm as complete as I've ever been. I'm excited about the spring and even more excited about the team we've got. I've been champing at the bit to get out there."
Kershaw, meanwhile, said he was glad to get this assignment out of the way and is ready for his first exhibition game, probably on Sunday.
"This day is always not the most fun. It's about as low-adrenaline as you can, and you have to try to be competitive," he said. "Overall, it went OK, and I got it out of the way and can pitch in a real game now. You've got to get your work in. It's necessary. You can't go bullpens into a game, you need to face hitters before a game. It's the same progression since I've been here."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.