Clayton Kershaw wouldn’t say if he wanted A.J. Ellis to be his personal catcher. He wouldn’t say he didn’t want him to be, either.
The decision is Manager Don Mattingly’s, Kershaw said.
“I don’t know,” Kershaw said. “That’s Donnie’s call. I love throwing to A.J. Obviously, I’ve had some success doing that.”
Asked if he wanted a personal catcher, Kershaw replied, “I can’t answer that. I can’t answer that.”
Kershaw reported to the Dodgers’ spring-training facility Thursday morning, along with the team’s other pitchers and catchers. The group included Yasmani Grandal, the catcher who was acquired in the trade that sent Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres.
Ellis caught the majority of Kershaw’s starts and is one of the left-hander’s closest friends on the team. But the 26-year-old Grandal is more than seven years younger than Ellis and is considered a superior offensive player.
Mattingly has previously said he feels uncomfortable designating personal catchers.
Kershaw said he didn’t expect to encounter any problems in developing a relationship with Grandal.
“I’ve had a lot of different guys come through here,” Kershaw said. “I’ve had a lot of good ones, from Russell [Martin] starting out to Rod [Barajas] and Dioner Navarro, and A.J. for a long time now. He comes with a great reputation, Grandal does, of being able to catch the ball and block the ball and stuff. It should be good.”
Kershaw returned to Arizona as a first-time father, as his wife gave birth to their daughter last month. He called the experience “a game-changer.”
The family addition capped an eventful off-season that included him winning the National League most valuable player award. He also won his third Cy Young Award.
“It’s fun to celebrate,” he said. “Who knows? I might not get to win those awards again, so you don’t want to just have the postseason deter from what you accomplished.”
That said, Kershaw acknowledged his season didn’t end how he wanted, as the Dodgers were eliminated by the St. Louis Cardinals in a National League division series. When Kershaw accepted his MVP and Cy Young awards last month, he thanked the Cardinals.
“For reminding me you’re never as good as you think you are,” he said at the time.
Asked Thursday why he included the Cardinals in his speech, Kershaw said, “I just wanted everybody to know that those awards mean a lot to me, but I’m not oblivious to the fact we didn’t win the World Series. I just wanted to make sure that message got across.”