GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Clayton Kershaw on Monday was the first Dodger to throw live batting practice this spring, with opposing batters Russell Martin and Josh Thole issuing rave reviews while Kershaw was typically underwhelmed."He looked great," said Martin, who was last a teammate of Kershaw's in 2010. "I felt I
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Clayton Kershaw on Monday was the first Dodger to throw live batting practice this spring, with opposing batters Russell Martin and Josh Thole issuing rave reviews while Kershaw was typically underwhelmed.
"He looked great," said Martin, who was last a teammate of Kershaw's in 2010. "I felt I put a great at-bat on him and, 3-2, he ends up making a pitch right on the black. Just classic Kershaw. From the box, the curve was nasty, stayed outside the middle of the plate and if he did, it was attack mode. The fastball had a little movement at the end, just bit back and got the corner. He's got so many weapons and a little funky with the delivery, he's just tough to feel comfortable in the box."
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Martin, 0-for-5 in his career against Kershaw, said he couldn't compare to the 2018 Kershaw, who battled injuries and a drop in velocity.
"But I just know Kershaw," said Martin. "I know what kind of attitude he has. He's ultra-competitive from his first bullpen to the last pitch of the season. That's his DNA, right? That's what it felt like. Almost like playoff-caliber intensity. It's never, 'I'm going to go easy today.' He's coming at you. That's what I love about him."
Thole, 1-for-5 in his career against Kershaw, echoed Martin.
"That little slider/cutter thing that he throws is just a dominating, wipeout pitch," said Thole. "And his focus on where he starts it and where it ends up is just precision with him. You can never think along with him. His stuff is so good, you can never really get comfortable with him. When he misses with a pitch, he's not afraid to come back with it, and that's what makes him elite."
Kershaw, who threw 22 pitches and a handful more in the bullpen afterward, said he threw all of his pitches and was pleased it was over.
"Just do it to get it out of the way," he said. "Definitely not the most fun day of camp. There's a difference between a bullpen and hitters in the box. A little bit added competitiveness facing a hitter. Little bit of a step up from the bullpen."
• Kershaw said he won't be bothered by the 20-second pitch clock, which will be used in Spring Training games after being used for the last four seasons in the Minor Leagues. He said he was more concerned about proposed rule changes that could cost situational relievers or bench players their jobs.
"If I go over, I go over and I'm not going to pay any attention to it one bit," he said. "I'm sure there are ways to get around it. The game has changed so much that there's so many swings and misses, there's so many strikeouts, so many home runs, so many fill in the blank. It's like almost two steps forward, one step back. I hope it doesn't affect the game too much. I worry about it. I get what they're trying to do. Nobody wants to watch a four-hour baseball game, I completely understand that."
Roberts also downplayed the impact.
"I don't think it will be that much of an adjustment around the league," said Roberts. "Maybe some of the guys that work a little slower. Some hitters might fall victim to the pitch clock. Players are going to adjust. I don't think it's that drastic and it's good for the game. I understand the issues and whatever keeps the fan interest and keep the game going, we're trying to make the game better and do what the fans want."
• Corey Seager's left pantleg was covered in dirt, a stain left when he instinctively slid to field a grounder with no hesitation, even though he landed on his surgically repaired hip.
"When I did it I said, 'Sorry, I didn't know if I was allowed to or not,'" said Seager, recovering from elbow and hip operations without a setback. "It's all good. I didn't think about it. It just happened. I felt if you're not thinking about it and just do it, that's a good sign."
Seager also took batting practice on the field for the first time, then tracked pitches from Josh Smoker while in the batter's box without swinging to acclimate to Major League speed.
"Faster. A lot faster," Seager said he quickly realized.
• Ross Stripling, back in action after three days with the flu, threw a bullpen session Monday.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.