Clayton Kershaw may very well start Opening Day for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but it wasn’t until their sixth Cactus League game that he got his first action of 2021 Spring Training.
Leading up to Friday’s start against the Kansas City Royals, Kershaw had thrown multiple bullpen sessions and rounds of live batting practice. His latest bullpen was Tuesday, and after that the team contemplated what the next step would be for their left-handed ace.
Rather than have Kershaw throw more live BP, he was scheduled to pitch at Surprise Stadium. It was a positive first outing as Kershaw struck out a pair over two scoreless innings, needing only 22 pitches.
“It was good to get back out there,” Kershaw said. “I got my third inning in the ‘pen, mixed in everything today. Obviously it’s hard in two innings to throw everything that you want to, but I did mix in at least one of every pitch I have. So that was good. Some stuff to build on, for sure.”
Earlier this week Dodgers manager Dave Roberts dismissed the notion Kershaw had been held out of a Cactus League start due to health reasons. “Better than it was a year ago,” Roberts described Kershaw’s physical state.
That of course is an encouraging development as Kershaw looks to build on what was a resurgent 2020 season. It began with being scratched from an Opening Day due to back trouble that required a stint on the 10-day injured list, but he otherwise was healthy after returning and had more zip on a fastball that had declined in velocity.
“Right now, at this point I feel great,” Kershaw said. “Felt like the ball was coming out good today. Just another good stepping point for the season.”
Kershaw has enjoyed career with Dodgers
Kershaw is entering the final year of a contract extension signed after the 2018 season, and while a decision on his future is not front of mind, playing for the Dodgers has been an experience the soon-to-be-33-year-old has enjoyed.
“I love the Dodgers, I love everything about this organization and I feel really fortunate I’ve gotten to have as many opportunities as I’ve had to win a World Series,” Kershaw recently said. “Now that we’ve finally one won, you don’t take that for granted.
“I really, really have enjoyed my time here and will continue to do so.”
Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, participate in our shows and giveaways, and more!