Right-hander Kenta Maeda is making himself comfortable in the Dodgers’ clubhouse

Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda made his spring debut Thursday against the Athletics.

Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda made his spring debut Thursday against the Athletics.

(Norm Hall / Getty Images)

Kenta Maeda’s initiation with the Dodgers is not limited to the mound.

The Japanese right-hander further ingratiated himself to his new team in a clubhouse meeting this week when, at the request of Manager Dave Roberts, he performed his “MaeKen” dance, in which Maeda leans forward at the waist and, wrists limp, rapidly waves his arms and elbows in windmill fashion.

“I was a little bit ashamed doing it in front of everybody,” Maeda said through an interpreter, “but I’m glad my teammates started copying it and making fun of it.”

Maeda’s on-field transition has been smooth too. He gave up two hits in three scoreless innings, struck out three and walked two in Thursday’s 8-3 exhibition victory over the Oakland Athletics. He has given up no runs and five hits in five innings in two Cactus League starts.

“It gives me a little bit of confidence, but I’m aware that it’s still spring training and not the regular season,” said Maeda, who signed an incentive-laden, eight-year, $25-million deal. “I know during the regular season there will be a few bumps along the way. So I’m not too concerned with the results right now.”

Maeda’s strikeouts came on a changeup, fastball and slider. Thirty of his 50 pitches were strikes.


“He has the ability to change speeds, keep hitters off balance and execute pitches,” Roberts said. “With his four-pitch mix, he has a lot of options.”

Leave of absence

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez will leave camp next week to play for Team Mexico in a World Baseball Classic qualifier March 17-20 in Mexicali, Roberts confirmed. Gonzalez, 33, spoke with Roberts this winter about his desire to play in the 2017 WBC and received the team’s blessing.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Roberts said. “I’m happy he’s playing for his country, means a lot for him and his family. And as a veteran player, we really don’t need to concern ourselves with Adrian getting ready for a season.”

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