It took 20 at-bats for Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw to give up his first hit of the spring, a home run by Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas on an inside fastball Sunday afternoon.
It took Kershaw only one at-bat of his own to produce his first hit of the spring, thudding a grounder off the legs of pitcher Nate Karns and beating out an infield single.
"I'm probably the slowest, biggest slap hitter in the game," Kershaw said midway through a 5-4 victory over the Royals. "So it was fortunate that he couldn't find the ball."
In his fourth Cactus League outing, Kershaw logged four innings, gave up two hits, walked one batter and struck out four batters. He also uncorked a wild pitch, on a slider that slipped past catcher Yasmani Grandal and allowed first baseman Ryan O'Hearn to reach base after a strikeout. Kershaw completed a fifth inning in the bullpen after he left the game. He has a 0.90 earned-run average this spring.
Kershaw remains on track to pitch his seventh consecutive opening day for the Dodgers. The team has shifted its rotation so right-hander Kenta Maeda slots as the No. 2 starter, with left-hander Rich Hill set for the third spot. The adjustment avoids using two left-handed starters in a row.
Against Kansas City, Kershaw sprinkled a few changeups amid his usual mixture of fastballs, sliders and curveballs. He overwhelmed former first-round pick Bubba Starling with fastballs in the second inning, struck out outfielder Jorge Soler with a slider in the third and spun another slider past infielder Cheslor Cuthbert for another strikeout in the fourth.
"Mixed in every pitch at some point," Kershaw said. "Had some good results with everything, at times. And then, at times, I wasn't great. But that's part of it, I guess."
Brock Stewart is shut down temporarily
The Dodgers have shut down rookie pitcher Brock Stewart because of tendinitis in his right shoulder, which effectively ends Stewart's long-shot chances of making the opening-day roster.
Manager Dave Roberts learned of Stewart's condition a few days ago. Stewart will not pick up a baseball for at least a week. When he resumes throwing, he will restart his throwing program from the beginning, which places him well behind his teammates this late in the spring.
"My understanding is it's not serious," Roberts said Sunday morning. "It's just this thing where he got fatigued, and there was some soreness in his shoulder."
The Dodgers were expected to option Stewart, a 25-year-old right-hander, to triple-A Oklahoma City to start the season. He was competing for rotation spots along with Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Alex Wood, Julio Urias and Ross Stripling.
Stewart had a 5.89 ERA in seven big league outings when he debuted last season, though two disastrous starts to begin his career marred his statistics. He threw five scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs in August. He also dominated in the minors, rising all the way from Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. In nine triple-A starts, Stewart had a 9.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio with a 2.49 ERA.