SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Clayton Kershaw was allowed to bat on Sunday for the first time this spring, and even got an infield single. But the left-handed ace hasn't stopped working on his pitching.After pitching six hitless innings over his first three Cactus League starts, Kershaw saw that streak end with
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Clayton Kershaw was allowed to bat on Sunday for the first time this spring, and even got an infield single. But the left-handed ace hasn't stopped working on his pitching.
After pitching six hitless innings over his first three Cactus League starts, Kershaw saw that streak end with a first-inning home run from Kansas City's Mike Moustakas, the only run he allowed in four innings during the Dodgers' 5-4 win over the Royals.
Then, Kershaw went down to the bullpen to throw more and put in more work.
"That's for me to know right now," Kershaw said when asked what he was working on. "It's what I need to do to get hitters out, but I'm not telling anybody."
Moustakas' home run came on a slider, down, but over the plate. Kershaw mixed in several changeups, the ever-elusive fourth pitch in his formidable arsenal, and used all four of his pitches in a fourth-inning strikeout of Cheslor Cuthbert.
When was the last time Kershaw used the complete mix with that ideal result?
"Maybe never," pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. "What's neat is that he's starting to trust his changeup a little more, and he's getting good results with it."
Kershaw has been working on the changeup for years, but has never fully incorporated it into his mix. Maybe this year will be different.
"I have no idea, honestly," Kershaw said about using the pitch more. "I threw a couple today that were OK, so that's usually how it works. You've got to throw some and get some good results with it to gain some confidence. That's all pitching is, is just confidence in your pitches. If you have intent behind it, more often than not you'll have success. For me, it's just building up that confidence with that pitch."
Kershaw struck out four, walked one and allowed an infield single in addition to Moustakas' homer.
"Not great, but not bad," Kershaw said. "Mixed in every pitch at some point, had at least some good results at times, and at times, it wasn't great, but that's part of it, I guess."
As for his offense, Kershaw wasn't gloating. The hit he got was a comebacker that Royals pitcher Nathan Karns couldn't find the handle on, as Kershaw lumbered down the line in time to beat the throw.
"Not the greatest of hacks, but it worked out the first time," said Kershaw, who struck out in his second at-bat. "I'm probably the slowest, biggest, slap hitter in the game. I was fortunate he couldn't find the ball."
After going 1-for-2, Kershaw's career Spring Training batting average is .303 (10-for-33).
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.