‘Seags got me,’ Clayton Kershaw says after giving up homer to Corey Seager in 3-1 loss to Rangers
PHOENIX–Clayton Kershaw called Thursday night’s 4 ⅓-inning, two-run, five-hit effort in a 3-1 exhibition loss to the Texas Rangers at Camelback Ranch a “slight improvement” over his first Cactus League start, but the veteran left-hander still found plenty to criticize about his performance.
“I feel like I had a few more good throws than the last time, but there’s still some work to do,” said Kershaw, who struck out four and walked none. “Honestly, the fastball command wasn’t very good. I felt like I was behind a lot of hitters. And my sliders, even my good ones were getting foul balls instead of swings and misses. So just a few little things I need to clean up.”
Manager Dave Roberts said “getting a feel for the slider,” a pitch Kershaw was “searching for” in his first start, was a priority Thursday night.
Kershaw did notch three of his four strikeouts, including whiffs of Corey Seager in the first inning and Nathaniel Lowe in the third, with his slider, but he also caught too much of the plate with fastballs to both of those sluggers.
Lowe lofted an opposite-field solo homer over the left-field wall in the first inning, and Seager, Kershaw’s long-time teammate with the Dodgers, crushed a first-pitch fastball over the center-field wall for a solo homer in the third.
Thursday marked the first time since Seager signed a 10-year, $325-million contract with the Rangers before 2022 that Kershaw has faced the 2020 World Series most valuable player in a game.
“Yeah, Seags got me,” Kershaw said. “I mean, I knew he was gonna swing. I threw it as hard as I could. I just thought maybe he’d pop it up, and he didn’t. So he won. I’ll give it to him. Tip my cap. Thankfully, it didn’t count. We’ll see him again in July.”
Kershaw took no consolation in winning the first-inning battle against Seager.
“He hit a home run,” Kershaw said. “I gotta strike him out like eight times for it to be even now.”
Kershaw exited after getting the first out of the fifth inning, his pitch count at 75. His fastball sat in the 90-92-mph range and touched 93 mph once. He incurred his first pitch-clock violation of the spring when he threw an extra warmup pitch with less than 30 seconds on the between-innings clock before the third inning.
“I didn’t know the rule,” Kershaw said. “I thought as long as I came set before 40 [seconds] I could have one more [warmup] pitch regardless. But it takes me a while to come set, so I think I threw it after 30 seconds, and that’s a violation. So good to know.”
Jimmy Nelson, who has struggled with his command in his return from Tommy John surgery, walked four batters in the sixth, one to force in a run, and now has eight walks and no strikeouts in 2 ⅓ spring innings. He was replaced by left-hander Alex Vesia, who escaped the jam with a strikeout and groundout.
Chris Taylor, who has been searching for his swing all spring, struck out twice in three at-bats, his Cactus League average falling to .103 (3 for 29) with 12 strikeouts and five walks in 11 games.
Evan Phillips, looking more and more like the team’s probable closer, struck out the side in the ninth for his fifth scoreless outing of the spring.
Dave Roberts remains strong proponent of WBC despite Edwin Diaz injury
PHOENIX — Manager Dave Roberts said “my heart sank” when he saw New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz get carried off the field in a wheelchair after suffering a major knee injury celebrating Puerto Rico’s victory over the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic in Miami on Wednesday night.
Diaz, perhaps baseball’s most dominant reliever and a key piece of what the Mets expect to be a championship-caliber club, suffered a right patella tendon tear and was scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery on Thursday.
“You see his brother crying [on the field] …” Roberts said on Thursday. “I’m a baseball fan, so when you see a player of that magnitude lose a season, certainly to something as benign as celebrating, it’s sad.”
But Roberts said Diaz’s fluke injury, which the right-hander suffered while jumping up and down in celebration with teammates after the final pitch, would not deter him from encouraging his players from competing in the WBC in the future.
“I absolutely think it’s worth [the injury risk],” Roberts said. “And that’s something that really had nothing to do with the game. So that’s not a baseball or a WBC issue. It’s just a very unfortunate thing that happened. But you look at the attendance, the viewership [for WBC games], the players talking about how they’ve enjoyed this experience … so for me, it’s been good for baseball.”
Noah Syndergaard looks sharp in minor league game against White Sox
PHOENIX — With Wednesday night’s rainout pushing Clayton Kershaw’s exhibition start back to Thursday night against the Texas Rangers, Noah Syndergaard, who was originally scheduled to start Thursday night, pitched in a triple-A game against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday afternoon.
Syndergaard threw 60 pitches over five innings, giving up one unearned run and one hit, striking out one and walking none.
“It went well,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He was very efficient. Everything was in the zone.”
Roberts said the plan for Freddie Freeman, who suffered a mild right hamstring injury in Tuesday’s World Baseball Classic game for Canada, is to start at designated hitter on Saturday, play first base Sunday and take Monday off.
Kershaw is scheduled to throw five innings and about 75 pitches Thursday night at Camelback Ranch in his second Cactus League start, with an emphasis on his breaking ball.
“I think if you look at his last start, the thing that he was kind of searching for was the slider,” Roberts said. “So I think probably tonight, getting a feel for the slider is something that he’s going to be locked in on.”
The Dodgers’ lineup vs. Rangers: CF Jason Heyward; LF Chris Taylor, SS Miguel Rojas, 3B Max Muncy, DH J.D. Martinez, 2B Miguel Vargas, RF James Outman, C Hunter Feduccia, 1B Devin Mann, LHP Clayton Kershaw.
Mike Trout and Mookie Betts argue Edwin Díaz’s injury shouldn’t dim support for WBC
PHOENIX — Mike Trout’s expectations for the World Baseball Classic were high. He had been looking forward to the event since Team USA won the last tournament in 2017. The Angels’ superstar center fielder was the first player to commit to play for the U.S. this time around and helped recruit some of the other stars on the roster. But the experience has surpassed even his highest expectations.
“This is the funnest experience I have had on the baseball field, to represent your country,” Trout said. “It’s been a blast.”
Trout spoke Wednesday night after leading Team USA to a 3-2 win over Colombia that advanced the Americans to the quarterfinals Saturday against Venezuela in Miami. Sitting on the other side of the table were Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and a special guest, his daughter Kynlee.
Betts and Trout powered Team USA’s offense atop the lineup, combining for five hits, three RBI and two runs scored. The duo, two of the brightest stars in the world, shone together. It was an illustration of the WBC’s potential. A few hours earlier, another one — a darker one — played out across the country.
Dodgers-Rockies game is rained out; Tony Gonsolin on the mend
PHOENIX — The unseasonably cool temperatures and above-average precipitation that have marked spring training in Arizona threw another wrench into the Cactus League on Wednesday when five games — including the Dodgers’ exhibition against the Colorado Rockies — were rained out.
Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to make his second exhibition start, with a target of five innings and about 75 pitches, against the Rockies at Camelback Ranch on Wednesday, but manager Dave Roberts said the veteran left-hander will now start Thursday night’s game against the Texas Rangers.
The Dodgers, who were off on Tuesday, had not determined as of late Wednesday afternoon when Noah Syndergaard, who was originally scheduled to start against the Rangers on Thursday night, will next pitch.
Right-hander Tony Gonsolin, who has been sidelined for more than a week because of a left-ankle sprain, resumed his throwing program and has stretched his long-toss program to 120 feet, Roberts said on Wednesday, but there is no timetable for when Gonsolin will be able to throw off a mound.
“Tony is doing much better,” Roberts said. “He was stretched out [to 120 feet] and was able to bear more weight, so that was a good thing.”
Freddie Freeman sits out Canada’s WBC game with hamstring injury
PHOENIX — Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman did not play for Team Canada in its 10-3 loss to Team Mexico on Wednesday in the World Baseball Classic after suffering a hamstring injury Tuesday.
Canada has a slim chance of advancing in the WBC despite the loss, though Freeman won’t rejoin the team.
“He’s out of this tournament for now,” Canada manager Ernie Whitt said before the game. “The Dodgers decided that. He’s over in camp right now getting looked at by the doctors and training staff.”
Freeman sustained the injury on a swing in his second at-bat in the third inning against Colombia on Tuesday. He slowly ran out of the batter’s box, clearly in discomfort. He was replaced at first base in the fourth inning.
Freeman, 33, chose to play for Canada, as he did in the 2017 WBC, to honor his late mother, Rosemary, who died of skin cancer when Freeman was 10. She was born and raised in Canada.
Mexico secured a spot in the quarterfinals, while Canada will need Colombia to beat Team USA on Wednesday night to have any chance of moving on via tiebreakers.
Dustin May’s mound maturity is improving, even if his cursing is a work in progress
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — There is the way Dustin May feels when he’s on the mound, and there is the way the fiery Dodgers right-hander outwardly expresses it.
On the inside, May has been quietly pleased with his progress this spring, continuing to regain strength and stamina he didn’t realize he was missing last year in his initial return from Tommy John surgery — as well as a newfound level of mental fortitude to go along with it.
“I would say right now is probably the closest I’ve been to pre-surgery, feel-wise,” May said. “I’m in a pretty good spot.”
It’s just that, based on May’s often-emotional in-game demeanor, it sometimes can be hard to tell.
Freddie Freeman leaves Canada’s WBC win with hamstring injury
PHOENIX — The Dodgers had a rare day off from their Cactus League schedule Tuesday. They got an on-field scare anyway.
First baseman Freddie Freeman, playing for Canada in the World Baseball Classic, left Tuesday’s 5-0 win over Colombia with a hamstring injury.
Freeman ran gingerly out of the batter’s box after popping out to the third baseman in foul territory in the top of the third inning. He was replaced at first base in the bottom of the fourth inning.