For Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, being an All-Star is still something to cherish

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw speaks to reporters in Seattle on Monday ahead of the MLB All-Star Game.
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw speaks to reporters in Seattle on Monday ahead of the MLB All-Star Game.
(Lindsey Wasson / Associated Press)

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw thought the question was funny.

Who is your NBA player comp?

“We talk about that a lot,” Kershaw said after a laugh. “I think Sam Perkins.”

Sam Perkins is 62 years old. He played his last NBA game in 2001. Evidently, they do talk about that a lot.

Kershaw explained his rationale: Perkins was a three-point shooter who shot without jumping. In that way, his game mirrors Perkins’ game. Perkins, however, was never an NBA All-Star. Kershaw is a National League All-Star this season for the 10th time in his Hall of Fame career. The accomplishment is not lost on him.


Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. has sold the most MLB jerseys this season, with Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani coming in at second.

July 10, 2023

It would’ve made sense for Kershaw to not be here this week. He’s on the injured list, so pitching in Tuesday’s game is out of the question. He’s 35 with four young children. He’s been there, done that.

Using the break to go back home to Dallas or go on a mini-vacation or just stay in Los Angeles with the family for a few days are all things other major leaguers would’ve done. Mike Trout, for example, was voted in as a starter but didn’t make the trip after breaking his wrist last week.

But Kershaw isn’t just another major leaguer and the All-Star Game isn’t just an exhibition for him. He thoroughly enjoys the event with his kids. So a year after starting the game in Los Angeles, he was at T-Mobile Park taking all sorts of questions Monday.

“I think it’s just fun to play,” Kershaw said of the All-Star Game. “You don’t play a lot of games where the wins and losses don’t really matter. So just to be able to go out and kind of showcase everybody that’s so good in the game for the first half, is great for baseball and I think guys have fun with it. Sometimes you don’t have the pressure. You get to do some fun things, like talk throughout the game or have some different things that maybe you wouldn’t have otherwise. So, I think that’s a cool part of it.”

This is the second time Kershaw has been on the injured list after making the All-Star team. It happened in 2016 when the game was played in San Diego. He went to that game too. He returned to the mound in September and finished the season with a 1.69 ERA in 21 starts.

Seven years later, while not as dominant, Kershaw remains one of the elite pitchers in the majors. His 2.55 ERA leads the NL. His 1.05 WHIP is tied for first with Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen, who is slated to start Tuesday. Kershaw is one of seven pitchers in the majors with 10 wins.


He’s defying expectations and not taking it for granted.

Kershaw appreciates beer gesture

Kershaw’s injury opened the door for Pittsburgh Pirates closer David Bednar to be named to the All-Star team last week.

The Pirates just so happened to be in Los Angeles facing the Dodgers so Bednar, a Pittsburgh native, sent a few cans of I.C. Light, a beer brewed in Pittsburgh, as a gift with a note in which he addressed Kershaw as “Mr. Kershaw.”

Bednar later heard from Pirates pitcher and former Dodger Rich Hill that Kershaw appreciated the gesture.

“He was laughing at it and thought it was pretty cool,” Bednar said.

What did Kershaw think of the beer?

“He’s like, ‘You know it’s just like a Coors Light or Bud Light, a light beer.’ For me, it’s more than that. It’s a black-and-gold can. Are you kidding me? It’s the best.”

Craig Kimbrel bounces back

This time last year, Craig Kimbrel was trudging through one of the worst stretches of his career. He owned a 4.50 ERA with the Dodgers, who had acquired him at the end of spring training to close games. He was better in the second half, but the Dodgers chose not to put him on their postseason roster. It was rock bottom.

Kimbrel, 35, unceremoniously left in free agency, signing with the Philadelphia Phillies. On Saturday, was named to the NL All-Star team as an injury replacement. It’s his ninth time receiving the honor. The ninth time, after last season’s struggles, means a bit more than the first eight.


“I would say so, yeah,” Kimbrel said. “I would say from where I was sitting toward the end of last year to even how this year started, and to be able to get on a roll through May and June and to be able to sit here and talk to you because of that [is special].”

Kimbrel wasn’t on track to make the team early in the season when he had an 8.52 ERA through 14 appearances. He’s since surrendered three runs with 40 strikeouts to five walks in 25 appearances. Along the way, he became the eighth pitcher to record 400 saves.

What’s the difference?

“Not putting guys on base and not getting myself into trouble,” Kimbrel said. “Early on in the year I think I kind of was walking guys, pitching in situations where I got guys in scoring position and less than two outs. This year, I’ve put myself in more comfortable situations and better counts. I’ve been able to attack more instead of playing on the other side. It’s a lot easier to pitch 0-2 than it is 2-0.”

Josiah Gray: Dodgers trade ‘stung’

It’s been nearly two years since the Dodgers traded Josiah Gray to the Washington Nationals as part of a package for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. Gray, a top pitching prospect at the time, envisioned a long career in Los Angeles. Instead, the right-hander became a cornerstone for a massive rebuild in Washington.

Gray is now an All-Star, chosen as the Nationals’ lone representative, after registering a 3.41 ERA in 18 starts.

“The initial reaction, it definitely stung a little bit,” Gray said. “I saw myself being with the Dodgers for a while and being in that rotation, just learning from those guys. The business part, obviously, is a part that you have to handle and you have to deal with.”


The Nationals are in last place, but the future is bright with young talent in both the majors and the farm system after fire sales over the last two summers. Whether that potential breeds success will depend, in some part, on Gray’s continued development.

“I feel like I have a great opportunity over there in D.C. and it’s been everything to just grow with that organization and be that next wave of guys,” Gray said. “It definitely stung at first, but I’m grateful for his new opportunity to just grow.”

Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.