"That was good. If I didn’t catch it, it probably would have hit me right in the shin," Kershaw said.
That sentiment kind of sums up why the Dodgers have yet to announce Kershaw as their Opening Day starter. Starting the season more than a week earlier than other teams in Australia, the Dodgers are, in fact, getting their top four starters ready to pitch in Australia. The likeliest candidates for the two Australian games, of course, are Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but one small setback could bump either one's first start to some time in April.
Thus, they’re keeping their options open.
"I’ll pitch whenever they tell me to," Kershaw said. "I don’t care when or where."
Kershaw’s first action against live hitters was uneventful. He threw 25 pitches, one of which was a changeup, his project pitch again this spring. He otherwise mixed fastballs, sliders and curveballs -- a typical repertoire -- and said afterward, "Everything still works, so that’s good."
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly talked earlier in the day about monitoring Kershaw’s workload coming off a 259-inning season in which his young ace was on the mound later than ever before in his career: on Oct. 18, Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. Kershaw said he understands the sentiment but didn’t feel tired in the playoffs.
"I’ve never been a big fan of monitoring innings. I feel like throwing 100 pitches in nine innings is a lot different than throwing 100 pitches in five innings," Kershaw said. "Stressful innings is kind of what you’ve got to monitor, and I understand that."