Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke sharpen up in tandem

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers' two best starting pitchers made their final spring starts on Wednesday and gave the team plenty of reason to believe this rotation can be at least as good as it was in 2014.

Reigning National League Cy Young and MVP winner Clayton Kershaw finished his spring with a scaled-back three-inning outing against the Kansas City Royals that sets him up nicely for Opening Day on Monday. He allowed one unearned run on a couple of hits and had two walks and two strikeouts. As usual, he was self-critical.

“I was all over the place,” Kershaw said.

A year ago, Kershaw had a 9.20 ERA in spring training, but showed few ill effects when he went to Australia and beat the Arizona Diamondbacks in the opener. He did, however, show some ill effects of the shortened spring when he returned from Australia with a strained muscle in his upper back that kept him out for five weeks.

This spring, smooth sailing: Kershaw finished with a 1.61 ERA.

“I hope it means I’ll pitch better, but I don’t think it means anything,” Kershaw said. “I didn’t think I pitched that bad last spring and I had a 9 [ERA] and I don’t think I pitched that well this spring and I had a whatever-it-was. I don’t think you put much stock into it. I’d like to, but you can’t, I don’t think.”

Greinke’s final start was in a minor-league intrasquad scrimmage. The Dodgers’ top draft pick from 2014, pitcher Grant Holmes, served as the ball boy, shuttling fresh baseballs to the umpire. Greinke allowed two solo home runs, but was otherwise good, striking out nine batters and allowing five hits in his 85 pitches.

Asked if he was ready for the season -- on an extra day of rest, he’s scheduled to pitch the Dodgers’ second game of the season against the San Diego Padres on April 7 -- Greinke smiled and said, “I hope so.”

Greinke retired the final nine batters in order and struck out four in a row.

“If I threw seven innings, the first five were not looking good, but the last two were amazing,” Greinke said. “Hopefully, I can keep it up.”

Greinke has been tepid when discussing the offseason changes made by the new front office led by president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, but Kershaw said he’s excited for this season after watching the way the Dodgers functioned in Arizona.

“The guys we brought in have obviously fit in really well and Howie [Kendrick] and Jimmy [Rollins], especially, are really professional guys, so I’m not really worried about them,” Kershaw said. “We all knew their reputations before they came over.”