It may be the middle of March, but for the Dodgers it's time to get serious about spring training. For fine-tuning and significant decisions. Time to stretch pitchers out to have them ready for the season.
Clayton Kershaw hasn't enjoyed the spring of his baseball dreams — or the Dodgers' — and Saturday night at Camelback was his last exhibition appearance before he starts Opening Day next Saturday in Australia.
Best be of the "spring training stats don't mean a thing" mindset.
Kershaw was fairly terrific in his middle four innings, but his first and final innings were another matter in the Dodgers' 5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox in Phoenix in the second game of a day-night doubleheader.
It was a strange time to play two games stretched out over the entire day, what with the Dodgers scheduled to jump on a plane and embark on their 17-hour flight to Sydney after Sunday's afternoon game.
Still, it was Kershaw's last chance to get it right, having suffered through a 10.00 earned-run average in his first three spring appearances.
His final line wasn't exactly encouraging – five runs on eight hits and a walk, with five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings – but it wasn't quite as bad as it appeared.
He gave up a leadoff inside-the-park home run to Chicago's Adam Eaton in the first, but only after center-fielder Joc Pederson misplayed it. A double and single led to one more run, but then Kershaw started showing some command of his fastball.
Over the next four innings, he allowed only one more hit. Then, trying to stretch himself out, he may have grown tired in the sixth. He gave up a pair of singles and then a three-run homer to Avisail Garcia.
Kershaw ends the spring with a 0-3 record and a 9.20 ERA. If it wasn't Kershaw, maybe there would be some concern. But since it's the two-time Cy Young winner, the Dodgers have other issues to concern themselves with.
Offensively, they couldn't get much going Saturday night. They scored twice in the first off Chris Sale on an error, a single, a hit batter, sacrifice fly, a walk and another hit batter.