I predicted that Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-jin Ryu would be the two Dodger pitchers chosen to start in the Opening Series in Sydney a week ago. I compared Ryu and his international stardom and Clayton Kershaw’s philanthropy to two global ambassadors ready to usher in Major League baseball to markets still under the radar and out in the outback. Don Mattingly made it official on Sunday at Camelback Ranch, but he still made it clear that Kershaw’s innings will be monitored this season.
“We’ve got a lot of off-days early and we’ll take advantage of those off-days to give him his rest,” Mattingly said. “We’re not going to abandon ship about [Kershaw having thrown] a lot of innings.”
Last Opening Day, Scott and I watched Kershaw’s beautiful homerun at Dodger Stadium while pitching a shutout against the arch rival Giants. Unfortunately neither of us could make the trip out to Sydney (although I would love to visit Australia one day), but I’m sure Kershaw will be the perfect person to make this historic start. Kershaw has already made history, and with this upcoming Opening Day start on March 22nd, he will be the first pitcher since Ramon Martinez to make four consecutive Opening Day starts for the Dodgers.
Speaking of the Giants, Kershaw had a better start on Sunday against San Francisco. Kershaw
increased his pitch count to 70 on Sunday over 5 innings. He allowed 5 hits including a two-run homerun to Brandon Hicks. Kershaw’s Spring ERA coming into the game was 18.00, but we all know how meaningless Spring numbers are. Kershaw has been working on some pitches, and Spring is the perfect time to experiment, especially when you are Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw said he doesn’t know how his body will react to the long travel time which is part of the Australia trip, but I think he will be just fine. Kershaw has made long trips out to Africa with his wife Ellen to work on the orphanage he built through his charitable work. In any case, everyone will be tired and essentially on level playing ground, right? Team Australia might have the home town advantage in the exhibition game which will actually make that game a bit interesting.
Monday, Hyun-jin Ryu will be taking the mound against the Athletics at 1:05 p.m. This is the final week of Spring Training for the Dodgers, so look for more cuts and more action by the regulars. Some big decisions still loom for the Dodgers as Sydney quickly approaches.