Fac­ing Ker­shaw tough for prospects

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SPORTS - Ja­cob Un­ruh jun­ruh@ok­la­homan.com

Frank Sch­windel imag­ined Clay­ton Ker­shaw’s curve­ball looks like the whif­fle ball curve­balls grow­ing up in his New Jer­sey back­yard.

Omaha’s 25-year-old in­fielder had seen power and move­ment be­fore in past spring train­ings with the Roy­als. But this was Ker­shaw tak­ing the mound at Chick­a­saw Brick­town Ball­park for a re­hab start Satur­day night in front of a sell-out crowd.

Could it be the night that pro­pels a young player such as Sch­windel, who has never made the ma­jors?

“I think it’s an awe­some op­por­tu­nity get­ting to face ar­guably the best pitcher in the big leagues,” Sch­windel said be­fore the game.

For mi­nor league play­ers try­ing to land in the big leagues and stay there, fac­ing a guy like Ker­shaw can be daunt­ing. But it can also be their one shin­ing mo­ment.

Say Sch­windel, who has 16 home runs with Omaha, got a hanger and hit a homer. He’d have a mo­ment to share the rest of his life.

“I can’t imag­ine that be­ing the case,” Sch­windel said. “He could leave

one up and any­thing could hap­pen. Def­i­nitely a good day to­day would be some­thing to be proud of, but it’s just another game.”

Satur­day was far from that in OKC.

The stands of The Brick were packed with 13,106 fans to see Ker­shaw, a three-time Cy Young Award win­ner. It was the largest crowd since 1998, the in­au­gu­ral year in the sta­dium.

And Ker­shaw was his dom­i­nant self.

Through five in­nings, he al­lowed just two hits and struck out eight. His lone mis­take was a home run that Jorge Soler hit to open the second.

“Hit a homer,” Ker­shaw said. “Hap­pens.”

Ker­shaw re­bounded to face the min­i­mum the next 12 bat­ters. He al­lowed an in­field sin­gle to Paulo Or­lando, but then picked him off.

“Get­ting back out there for the fifth in­ning was good,” Ker­shaw said. “I didn’t know with my pitch count if I was go­ing to be able to go five, but able to keep the pitch count down. Com­mand was OK. I didn’t walk any­body tonight. I got be­hind a few hit­ters, but for the most part I thought ev­ery­thing went all right.”

Sch­windel had his chances, but he struck out look­ing and grounded out to short­stop.

There would be no grand story to tell his grand­chil­dren later in life. Save a tall tale, he could at least say he faced one of the greats.

“When he’s in the Hall of Fame get­ting in­ducted," Sch­windel said, "it would be a cool story to tell some­body you got a cou­ple hits off of him or some­thing like that, or just even fac­ing him and hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to share the field with him."

[PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OK­LA­HOMAN]

Clay­ton Ker­shaw daz­zled in a re­hab as­sign­ment start for the Ok­la­homa City Dodgers on Satur­day at Chick­a­saw Brick­town Ball­park. Through five in­nings, he al­lowed just two hits and struck out eight on 64 pitches, 43 for strikes.

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