No matter how comfortable the Los Angeles Dodgers may be leading, or how many pitches Clayton Kershaw has thrown, it’s never quite easy for manager Don Mattingly to take the ball from the reigning National League MVP’s grip.
Kershaw makes no bones about it. He takes mound looking to go at least eight innings in each of his starts. So when Mattingly pinch-hit for his ace in to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning, Kershaw sounded off on the fifth-year manager in the dugout.
The tense exchange, which was somewhat fitting when taking into the hot temperature at Dodger Stadium for the 12:10 start, was caught on Time Warner Cable SportsNet LA cameras, and set off a social-media firestorm.
“Same as always with Kersh. He doesn’t ever want to come out,” Mattingly nonchalantly responded when asked about the incident. He also added the decision to use a pinch-hitter would’ve taken place in the fourth inning had Kershaw’s spot in the lineup come up then.
“I’ve seen him like that before. I’ve talked about it numerous times with different guys. It never bothers me,” Mattingly continued. “Those guys are being competitive, wanting to stay in the game. That never bothers me, at all. I have to make that decision. He can not like it. We’ll be able to talk about it later, it’s no big deal. I don’t get offended by what went on today at all.”
Kershaw also didn’t make much of his dugout tirade, though he wasn’t nearly as willing to discuss the matter. “I’m not going to talk about that at all,” he said.
“If you guys want to talk about the game, I’m more than happy to talk about that.” Kershaw went on to criticize his curveball and allowing two-strike hits to the Arizona Diamondbacks, while also crediting Arizona for their gameplan.
As for Kershaw’s teammates, none took exception to their leader’s actions. “I was intent on listening to what he had to say,” said 30-year-old Heisey, who hit a key grand slam in the fifht inning. “He’s the best pitcher in baseball.
Howie Kendrick shared a sentiment similar to Heisey’s. “Clayton is the type of competitor that never wants to come out of the game,” the second baseman said. “He always wants to be in there with his teammates and try to get the job done. It feels good to help him out a little bit. I was happy we were able to put some runs on the board.”
Given that Kershaw decided against providing any clarity as to what was said between he and Mattingly, he was told of the possibility speculation could paint him in a negative light. That did nothing to change Kershaw’s stance, however. “Make it up then. It’s between Donnie and I. Nobody else needs to know,” he said.