Kershaw tosses efficient five innings in rehab start
Dodgers left-hander allows two hits over five innings, striking out six
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw had a successful, five-inning rehabilitation stint Friday night about 45 miles from Dodger Stadium.
Kershaw pitched for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Dodgers' California League affiliate at the Class A Advanced level, where he had never pitched. He bypassed the California League as well as the Triple-A level on his road to the Major Leagues.
Kershaw looked sharp and reported no pain. He has been sidelined with an upper back injury after pitching against Arizona in the Opening Series in Australia.
"I felt good and felt healthy," said the 6-foot-3 Kershaw, who has had the lowest ERA in the National League for the past three seasons.
Kershaw allowed Lancaster only two hits in five innings, striking out six while walking only one. He left the game in a position to be the winning pitcher, but the Lancaster JetHawks rallied to earn a 6-3 victory over Rancho Cucamonga.
In addition to being effective, Kershaw also was efficient. In the first inning, he retired the side on seven pitches. He needed only six pitches in the third and fourth innings.
"I was happy to pitch five innings because it meant I got up and down five times," said Kershaw, a two-time Cy Young Award winner.
Kershaw threw 56 pitches, one more than his pregame target of 55. In addition to the good control, Kershaw induced several batters to hit easy ground-ball outs.
Frequently in rehab efforts, how a pitcher feels the day after pitching is more important than how he feels immediately after the game. Kershaw reported good news on that front.
"I don't have any pain now and don't anticipate any problems in the morning," said Kershaw.
The next stop for Kershaw has not been determined. Before the Dodgers' game against Colorado, manager Don Mattingly said he would like to have Kershaw throw one more rehab start. Asked where he thought he would pitch next week, Kershaw offered no opinions.
"I'm not going to answer that question," Kershaw said. "I don't know what the plans are."
The only ball hit hard against him was by Carlos Perdomo, who drilled a 3-1 pitch over the left-field fence in the top of the fourth. It was Perdomo's eighth home run in seven years as a professional. The Venezuela native, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Thursday, had an opposite-field single for Lancaster's only other hit against Kershaw.
"He looked comfortable in the box and he looked like he had a plan," Kershaw said. "I had a 3-1 count on him and I didn't want to walk another batter."
The game at Rancho Cucamonga was a sellout. It became public knowledge on Wednesday that Kershaw would pitch for the Quakes, but another factor creating the full house was a Brian Wilson BobbleBeard promotional giveaway.
"I made sure to get one of those things for Brian," Kershaw said.