With Cactus League games only three days away for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw ramped up his level of activity this spring as he threw his first live batting practice session on Saturday.
Kershaw threw approximately two innings’ worth of pitches, facing teammates Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Turner and Juan Uribe. While Kershaw collected multiple strikeouts during the session, he also surrendered a home run to Uribe. After Uribe got the better of him, Kershaw joked he’d given the veteran third baseman confidence heading into the season.
Yasmani Grandal, who caught Kershaw during the session, assessed an area of trouble the Dodger ace was having and expressed his surprise over Kershaw’s competitiveness, via J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News:
He was just mad at himself because he wasn’t getting his slider over,” said Yasmani Grandal, who was catching Kershaw for the second time this spring. “You don’t expect to see that, but then again he likes to compete. The competitor comes out. Doesn’t matter whether he’s competing in a game or throwing batting practice.”
While Kershaw may have been struggling with his slider, Grandal added Uribe’s home run helped him get on track:
After throwing the slider that Uribe hit for a home run, “it seemed like a lightbulb went on and (Kershaw) started throwing that pitch real good,” Grandal said.
Uribe’s home run will live on in the clubhouse and amongst fans, but you’ll never find it on a stat sheet. However, when taking into account Kershaw’s previous spring struggles, it’s not all that surprising to learn he was taken deep.
Over 41 career Spring Training games (34 starts), Kershaw has given up 11 home runs and has a 3.62 ERA. Last year, opponents hit three homers off Kershaw in four starts and he finished with a 9.20 ERA — both of which are career-highs in seven big league camps.
Kershaw’s first opportunity to face batters other than his teammates will come March 5 in the Dodgers’ second Spring Training game of 2015.
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