GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Yasiel Puig drew the short straw and was first to face Clayton Kershaw, as he threw live batting practice for the first time this spring. Puig was ready, swinging at the first pitch and hitting a soft liner."I probably should have," Kershaw said when asked if he
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Yasiel Puig drew the short straw and was first to face Clayton Kershaw, as he threw live batting practice for the first time this spring. Puig was ready, swinging at the first pitch and hitting a soft liner.
"I probably should have," Kershaw said when asked if he expected Puig's ambush.
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Otherwise, Kershaw's least-favorite Spring Training assignment was rather routine, 22 pitches, most of them tracked and taken by Puig, Chris Taylor and Alvin Toles.
If he's on a five-day schedule, Kershaw will start Sunday's exhibition game against Seattle in Peoria in the next step toward his eighth consecutive Opening Day start March 29.
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Management has designed this spring's schedule with a reduced workload after last season extended into November. But for Kershaw, it's pretty much been business as usual, which he explained is a function of his specific job.
"With position players you have a lot more leeway; they don't need six weeks of Spring Training. Relievers are the same way; they don't need six weeks to get ready," said Kershaw. "Really, everybody's here for us, honestly. The starting pitchers need to go an inning at a time for four or five times and that takes three or four weeks. There's not much you can do.
"Normally, I think I would throw two innings [today] and I threw one this time. And I'll probably throw one inning first time out [in a game] instead of two. So, little stuff. But ultimately, I don't think it matters, and come March 29 I don't think anybody will care where you are right now."
Kershaw said he "felt great" physically, but "the pitching side needs a little work."
Toles said he had never faced Kershaw until this workout.
"It's early and he's not on, but he's got good stuff," said Toles. "You get up for him. You have to. He's good. But it's just practice."
Kershaw said he was thankful that the Commissioner's Office had dialogue with the Players Association before announcing pace-of-play rule changes that did not include a pitch clock.
"Ultimately, I'm not sure if it's going to create a huge difference with the mound visits or not," he said. "Where the union was, as long as it doesn't change the integrity of the game, the competitiveness of the game and it's not costing people one way or the other.
"At the end of the day, we all want to play a quick game, we all want to have a crispness to it, we all want to have the best product out there for the fans. There's a crispness to it when a game is two hours and 45 minutes. It just seems like the 3 1/2-, four-hour games don't benefit anybody. Some games dictate that, but at the end of the day, I think everybody benefits from a quicker game. It's not like the union is adamantly opposed to that. We're right in lockstep with that."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.