Dodgers pitching great Clayton Kershaw revealed plenty to Times writer Jorge Castillo during a recent interview at the Kershaw family home in Dallas. Some of it was deeply personal, some was lighthearted and some was even a little controversial.
Here’s a sampling of what Kershaw had to say.
‘There’s some truth to that burden’
This offseason is different than any other in that Kershaw no longer has to deal with the postseason demons of the past.
“I feel like there has been — definitely, like you can tell, that a burden has been lifted,” Kershaw’s wife, Ellen, said. “Clayton, I believe, is the hardest worker I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t take a day off. But I do feel like there’s a lightness.”
Kershaw added: “I probably would never have admitted all of this two years ago or whenever before when we lost. But now that we won, there’s some truth to it. There’s some truth to that burden.”
‘I wasn’t as enthused to get back going again’
“I wasn’t as enthused to get back going again, which is good thing,” Kershaw said. “It’s a great problem to have. I think every offseason in the past it’s been, ‘I just want to get this done. I just want to do it, do it, do it.’ And there’s this passion and it just constantly builds and builds and builds.
“And now the pressure is just because we have a great team and we’re supposed to win. That’s awesome.”
‘Mookie might be better than me’
Kershaw’s hand-eye coordination every year playing ping pong at spring training in the Dodgers’ clubhouse at Camelback Ranch.
But his match arrived last year after the team acquired outfielder Mookie Betts in a trade with the Boston Red Sox.
“Mookie might be better than me,” Kershaw admitted.
‘I’m very fortunate to be on a team that actually tries to win’
“(T)he Dodgers are one of the few teams that are actually trying, you know? Like when you look around the league, we have a great opportunity to win another one. So there’s motivation in that, knowing that I’m very fortunate to be on a team that actually tries to win every single year is pretty cool.
“Because you see around the league, a lot of these . . . big market teams are not trying to win and trading guys and doing different things and not spending money.”
‘The whole rebuild ... it’s tired’
“I don’t think this rebuilding approach, losing 100 games for a few years and then turning it around [works]. There’s only going to be one team that does that a year, potentially.
“So, yeah, for every Astros or Cubs story. there’s going to be 10 other teams that don’t win and they’re just going to have to do it all over again. And how, as a fanbase, can you accept that? The whole rebuild, don’t spend money for a few years, get a bunch of draft picks and try to do it, it’s tired. Every team does it now. Every team. They need to be more creative. Figure something out.
“There’s a lot of smart guys in front offices. Figure something out that’s easier to do than trading away a [star].”
‘You don’t want to pitch when you’re bad’
Kershaw doesn’t know whether he’ll pitch beyond this season, with the Dodgers or another club.
“It’s always a hard thing to figure out when you want to be done, right? Because if you still feel good and are having success, why would you stop?
“But you don’t want to go until you completely break, right? And you don’t want to pitch when you’re bad.”
‘I’ll line up for it’
“Everybody’s got their own thoughts and different things on the vaccine. Myself, personally, I’m going to take it whenever I get that opportunity and I feel good about it.
“And as more people do it on the team, it’s just the better your team has of making it through the season, so honestly I don’t know where we’re going to be. We might be all over the map, which is fine, but I’ll line up for it. I’ll get it.”
Kershaw orders coffee every morning for himself, his next-door neighbor and sister-in-law, who lives two doors down. The orders are always for “Tony.”
The inside joke is he goes by Tony Crenshaw.
Tony because he adds a y to Clayton.
Crenshaw because too many people in L.A. have assumed he and a boulevard share the same name.