SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Making his first start as a 30-year-old, Clayton Kershaw toyed with the Royals over 6 2/3 scoreless innings of Friday's 10-0 Dodgers win, allowing one hit to wrap up Spring Training with a 0.00 ERA.Despite having his fastball velocity still stuck around 90 mph, Kershaw couldn't have been
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Making his first start as a 30-year-old, Clayton Kershaw toyed with the Royals over 6 2/3 scoreless innings of Friday's 10-0 Dodgers win, allowing one hit to wrap up Spring Training with a 0.00 ERA.
Despite having his fastball velocity still stuck around 90 mph, Kershaw couldn't have been much more effective or efficient, in this start and all of the others this spring. He totaled 21 1/3 innings in six starts, allowed 12 hits while striking out 23 against four walks.
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"Physically, I feel great, which is good," said Kershaw, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Monday. "Finishing [the World Series] on Nov. 1, you never know how those extra weeks will affect you. Ready to feel that little bit of adrenaline and get going. That's why I really don't like pitching in 'B' games, it's tough to get yourself going for that. I don't know if you can see it on a velocity chart or a pitchability thing, but just figuring out how to pitch with a little bit extra."
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Kershaw said real competition might result in flashier radar-gun readings. Manager Dave Roberts said he isn't concerned that the Kershaw fastball that was once was in the mid-90s hasn't been seen this spring.
"Every pitcher with adrenaline, there's going to be an uptick in velocity, it's fair to expect that in the season," said Roberts. "The other day there were some 87s. I wouldn't say concerns. Today was in the 90-92 range, so today was more indicative of what we would expect. Opening Day, an extra day [of rest], I would expect it to be in the 93 [range]."
Maybe it's just a coincidence, but Kershaw finished off his best spring after changing his conditioning program to avoid continued back problems.
"For me, it was never about conditioning, it was about trying to stay healthy, geared toward keeping the back healthy, and right now I feel great and I'm really excited about that," he said.
Kershaw said he doesn't view this opener as special just because he's in the opt-out year of his contract. Nor does he feel any negative carryover from falling one win shy of a World Series title.
"It's tough to think like that, though. I mean, we're about 180 games away right now," said Kershaw. "It's an overwhelming thought. For me, I try to live in that five-day bubble. I'm worried about Thursday, then from there I'll get ready for the next one."
Kershaw will make his eighth consecutive Opening Day start, a franchise record, on Thursday against the Giants at Dodger Stadium.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.