GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Even though it was just one inning and 12 pitches, it was a good enough start for Clayton Kershaw.
The Los Angeles Dodgers ace helped begin the team's Cactus League season Saturday at Camelback Ranch against the Dodgers' co-tenants, the Chicago White Sox.
The plan, as explained by manager Dave Roberts before the game, was to have Kershaw work only one inning. He dispatched the White Sox in order, retiring Tim Anderson on a popup, striking out Melky Cabrera and getting Jose Abreu on a ground ball. He was relieved by Alex Wood in the next inning.
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''It was OK. I threw one changeup that was terrible. That's what I got mad about,'' Kershaw said after his brief outing before 8,474 fans. ''I got behind every batter today. But the results were OK, I got three outs, I'll take it for today and get ready for the next one.''
Kershaw said he will go two, ''maybe three'' innings in his next start and likely go up one per outing from there.
Last year, the three-time Cy Young Award winner was possibly headed to his best season when a herniated disk shelved him for two months. He returned in September and finished with a 12-4 record and 1.69 ERA. He pitched 149 innings, 13 short of qualifying for what would have been his fifth earned-run average title.
This outing was shorter than the usual spring opener because the games have started earlier this spring with the World Baseball Classic - in effect, giving each pitcher an extra start. Kershaw will not be participating in the WBC.
Roberts said he hasn't seen anything other than the usual from Kershaw this spring, and just wants to ease him into the flow.
''We communicated all winter so there's no surprise for us where he's at right now,'' Roberts said Saturday. ''If we wouldn't have known his history we'd think nothing of it, he looks great. He obviously adjusted some of his offseason workouts but yeah, he looks great.''
Kershaw proclaimed that the back issue is ''all good'' and that he's prepared for a conventional spring.
''Every year is different,'' he said. ''I never want to take for granted it'll be there when the season starts. When something doesn't work in spring I'm going to stress out about it and worry about it until I fix it.
''I'm not just going to say, `Well, I'll figure it out at some point,' even though that might be the case.''