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NLCS Game 4: Kershaw pregame interview

Clayton Kershaw fields questions before the Dodgers take on the Cubs in NLCS Game 4.
October 18, 2017

Q. Last few years we've been at this point and there's been so much conversation about pitching on three days' rest and what it means. Is it more relaxing this year not having to deal with it?CLAYTON KERSHAW: Relaxing is probably not the right word. It's probably just a testament to

Q. Last few years we've been at this point and there's been so much conversation about pitching on three days' rest and what it means. Is it more relaxing this year not having to deal with it?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: Relaxing is probably not the right word. It's probably just a testament to the team we have more than anything. The way we've been playing and how everybody has been able to contribute and everybody has been stepping up. There's been no need to do that, which is a good luxury to have. But I wouldn't say relaxing by any means.

Q. How much would you say, if at all, has Yasiel changed from the first year he was with you guys to who he is now?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: Yeah, I think there's been a lot of changes. I think it's kind of been all over the map from where he started to where he is now. But, I mean, this last -- really this whole season, I think people have gotten through to him a little bit. I think he's built up trust with some people.

And you see it in the way he plays. I think that's part of it; that he believes people have his best interest at heart. At the same time, too, his level of focus this postseason has been the best that I've ever seen it, and his determination. When you combine that with the talent level that he has, it's a really special player.

Q. With the way you've been used as a pitcher, do you feel fresher maybe than you have in the past, and how does that manifest itself?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: Yeah, I don't really -- people have always said, you got hurt this season, so you've got to feel better. You've got to feel fresher. I don't really feel any different any postseason. I think maybe last year with the usage I maybe felt a little bit towards the end, I felt a little bit -- tired is not the right word, but maybe just a little bit taxed, maybe.

But, yeah, I feel good. I don't feel any different than when I feel normal. I feel normal, which is great.

Q. Beyond following your normal routine and preparing to pitch tomorrow, because it's not your night to pitch, do you allow yourself to anticipate what a win tonight would mean?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: Yeah, it's a tough spot for me just because I have to prepare to start tomorrow. I can't assume we're going to win and then it just so happens I have to pitch. I have to expect to pitch and then be surprised when we win. It's a tough spot because obviously I believe in our team and I believe that we can win tonight. But I can't let myself mentally go there. But hopefully -- yeah, hopefully it doesn't work out and I don't have to pitch. But we'll see.

Q. Given how well you guys played through the middle of August, how surprising was that stretch for your loss, whatever it was, 16 of 17, and what did you learn from your group through surviving that?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: Yeah, you know, I think it's so hard to look back on it when you're in the middle of it. But I guess you learn that it's probably humbling for us, realizing we're not unstoppable. We're not unbeatable, which was probably a good thing for us, for sure.

Q. You talked a few minutes ago about Puig. Have you seen at all as a part of his growth where he's taken on a leadership role with the team?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: You know, I think right now he's more just playing, I think, and people feed off his energy, which is a good leadership trait. I think it's not so much outward leadership skills right now, but I think just this energy and emotion, it's a big thing for us.

Sometimes it's funny and his antics are different and whatnot. But I think his energy and emotion, we definitely feed off that at times, which is fun.

Q. In the midst of you guys winning five in a row, you had the manager change, and Dave came in and continued the success. What was key for him to be able to continue the good things that you had been doing here, and what makes him an effective leader?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: Yeah, Doc's been great. I think Yasiel's probably one of the main things that you've seen. I think Yasiel's really responded to Doc as manager, I think. Doc has really kind of taken him aside and really given him the attention that probably he needed at first to gain that trust, and he did a great job with that. Everybody talks about Doc's enthusiasm and positivity, which is huge in a leadership role.

But, yeah, I think it was a tough spot because we were really good. We just couldn't quite get over the hump. Then he came in and obviously wanted to change some things, but we had the talent still there, so he did a great job with that, I think.

Q. What do you remember from when you first got to the organization about Tommy Lasorda? What did you know growing up in Texas? What was it like to meet him for the first time, and what's it been like over the years?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: Honestly, I don't remember what I knew before I signed with the Dodgers. Yeah, I really have no idea. But when I got to go to Dodger Stadium and sign the contract, my mom and I got to meet him. Yeah, that was pretty cool, for sure.

Q. Now do you have any dialogue back and forth?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: Yeah, now Tommy's just -- yeah, that's the cool thing about being a Dodger. There are a lot of people -- there are a lot of people with historical significance around. We're probably pretty spoiled seeing Tommy and Fernando and Orel, or Sandy when he comes around. Obviously, I think it's part of being part of a special organization.

Q. The details of Yu Darvish's transition, whatever it is since he's gotten here, there have been maybe some mechanical changes, strategic changes, things like that. What is the hard part about doing that, showing up with a new team? You have two months and suddenly things are changing and you show up and pitch the way you do?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: Yeah, except his beautiful face, is that what you said (smiling)? No, he's been really open, which is part of it. I can't imagine coming to a new organization in the middle of a pennant race and wanting to prove that you're the pitcher that we traded for.

And on the cusp of free agency, wanting to showcase your skills and at the same time wanting to tinker with things and change some things to make yourself even better. Yu's been amazing about that. He's been so open with guys, talking to them about stuff. He asks a lot of questions, too, which I thought was great. Somebody that was a superstar in Japan and has been an ace here in striking out the world for his whole career, and to have that openness about asking questions and trying to figure things out, that's a really cool trait to have for a guy that's had as much success as he's had.

But I think most of it goes to Honey. Honey has worked with him so much, that's why Honey is one of the best, is that he can get the best out of guys.

Q. Justin Turner, you see what he brings on the field, but what's he bring to the mix in the clubhouse? How important has that voice been for what you guys have been able to accomplish this year?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: Yeah, I mean, J.T.'s one of our guys. He's that model of consistency. The last two or three years he's been one of the best hitters in the league, one of the best players in the league. The clubhouse presence, like you mentioned, is huge for us.

I think one of the things is he can connect with a lot of guys because he's done a lot of different things. He's been a utility player. He's been released, non-tendered, all that stuff. So he's had to really fight for where he's come from, so he can really relate to now he's a superstar. So he's got all spectrums of the guys that he can kind of relate to, which is an awesome quality to have.

Q. Along the lines with Darvish working on his mechanics, he said that you gave him advice about not thinking too much?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: I'm good at telling people to do that, not think.

Q. Can you maybe share what --
CLAYTON KERSHAW: At times when I saw him pitch, earlier when he came, I saw him kind of on the mound, like thinking about a release point and doing this with his arm and trying to feel it. All that stuff was awesome in between starts, but it's hard enough to get Major League hitters out while you're thinking about mechanics.

So all I told him was those four days you tinker, you work on whatever you need to do, but that fifth day you're out there, your stuff is so good. Just go compete. Just go get those guys out, and we can look back the next day on the mechanical stuff.

I don't know if it helped or not, but he's pitched really well. I think Honey takes a lot of the credit for the stuff on the side that he's been able to do with him. But mainly him. Just him being willing to figure all that stuff out. His repertoire of pitches, it was just a matter of time before he even got going.

Q. If memory serves, I think Andre Ethier's probably the one player who was here when you arrived in the Big Leagues and is still here with you now. What's he meant to you and the organization over the years, and how happy were you for him last night?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: I love 'Dre, man. He's awesome. As long as I've been here, you always want 'Dre up in big situations, regardless of his health or anything like that. You just feel good when he's at the plate. He's been a great hitter. He's been a clutch hitter. He's been an awesome player for the Dodgers for a long time.

If this is his last year with us, to get going in this postseason and get him out there and playing in back-to-back games, it's pretty fun. I know all the guys. He does a great job connecting with all the guys, and he's great at making fun of guys in a fun way. So it's always fun to have 'Dre around.