Ker­shaw’s next start will count

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Dy­lan Her­nan­dez dy­lan.her­nan­dez@la­times.com

SUR­PRISE, Ariz. — Clay­ton Ker­shaw won’t say it, but his long­time catcher sus­pects he dis­likes spring train­ing.

“There’s re­ally no re­ward at the end for him, as far as win or a loss,” A.J. El­lis said.

The next time Ker­shaw takes the mound, there will be a re­ward. He is sched­uled to start Mon­day, when the Dodgers host the San Diego Padres on open­ing day.

“Some­thing about the adren­a­line, the com­pe­ti­tion, takes him to an­other level,” El­lis said.

Ker­shaw will have to be al­most flaw­less against the Padres to pitch bet­ter than he did in the ex­hi­bi­tion sea­son.

Be­fore the Dodgers broke camp Wed­nes­day, Ker­shaw made a tuneup start that lasted three innings and low­ered his earned-run av­er­age to 1.61. He was charged with only an un­earned run in the Dodgers’ 4-4 tie with the Kansas City Roy­als.

“I hope it means I’ll pitch bet­ter, but I don’t think it means any­thing,” Ker­shaw said.

Ker­shaw pointed to his 9.20 ERA in spring train­ing last year. He went on to have a sea­son for the ages, win­ning the Na­tional League most-valu­able-player award, as well as his third Cy Young Award in four years.

“I don’t think you put much stock into it,” Ker­shaw said of spring stats. “I’d like to, but you can’t, I don’t think.”

If Ker­shaw was en­cour­aged, it was by the team’s new mid­dle in­field of short­stop Jimmy Rollins and sec­ond base­man Howie Ken­drick .

“The guys we brought in have ob­vi­ously fit in re­ally well,” he said. “Howie and Jimmy, es­pe­cially, are re­ally pro­fes­sional guys. … You feel like you know some­body play­ing against them, and Jimmy and Howie are what I ex­pected, both great guys will­ing to sit down and talk and hang out. And at the same time, when it’s time to play, they get it done, play the right way and it’s fun to be part of the team.”

Greinke up­beat

Be­fore Ker­shaw faced the Roy­als, Zack Greinke pitched seven innings in a Class-A in­trasquad game at Camel­back Ranch. The Dodgers wanted Greinke to in­crease his pitch count in as con­trolled an en­vi­ron­ment as pos­si­ble.

Greinke threw 85 pitches, which is more than he threw in any pre­vi­ous game this spring. He was charged with two runs and five hits.

“If I threw seven innings, the first five were not look­ing good,” he said. “But the last two were amaz­ing.”

Greinke said he made a me­chan­i­cal ad­just­ment when throw­ing a fast­ball away for the fi­nal pitch of the fifth in­ning. He struck out the next four bat­ters he faced.

Greinke’s next start will be Tues­day against the Padres.

The other two

As the Dodgers’ pri­mary catcher for the last three sea­sons, El­lis knew what Ker­shaw and Greinke could do. What made El­lis op­ti­mistic about the up­com­ing sea­son was how new­com­ers Bran­don McCarthy and Brett An­der­son pitched dur­ing spring train­ing.

“The first four guys right now are out­stand­ing,” El­lis said.

With Hyun-Jin Ryu start­ing the sea­son on the dis­abled list with shoul­der in­flam­ma­tion, the Dodgers will rely heav­ily on McCarthy and An­der­son in the first month of the sea­son.

“Th­ese are guys who are go­ing to pitch to our team strengths, which is go­ing to be our in­field de­fense, our de­fense in gen­eral,” El­lis said. “Th­ese guys put the ball on the ground.”

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