Kershaw sharp; Seager brothers face off for 1st time in bigs
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Clayton Kershaw’s spring debut was quick and efficient.
The Los Angeles Dodgers ace retired the Seattle Mariners’ first three hitters on 11 pitches on Sunday. He then headed to the bullpen and threw another 15 or so pitches in a simulated inning.
“I felt good. It’s good to get back out there,” Kershaw said. “I felt better doing this one than I did in bullpens or stuff like that. With the crowd, facing a different team, it helps a little bit. Glad to get back out there. Even though it was just one inning, it felt good to get back out there.”
Kershaw was pitching for the first time since a four-inning relief stint in the Dodgers’ 5-1 loss to Houston in Game 7 of the World Series on Nov. 1.
The lefty, who turns 30 during spring training, went 18-4 with a 2.31 ERA in the regular season and then 3-1 in his five postseason starts. He was the Game 1 winner in the World Series, but blew a four-run lead and didn’t make it out of the fifth inning of Game 5, which the Astros won 13-12 in 10 innings.
Even before his bullpen session on the first official day of workouts, Kershaw had already been tabbed by manager Dave Roberts to make his Dodgers-record eighth start on opening day.
“Very positive for Clayton,” Roberts said. “Fastball command good; threw some strike curveballs, which was good to see. Everything he wanted out of this outing, he got.”
Kershaw retired Ben Gamel on a comebacker, got Jean Segura to fly out to left and then retired Robinson Cano on a grounder.
Kershaw said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt likes to add on an inning in the bullpen after spring starts.
“It seems like a good segue into your next start,” said Kershaw, who has won the NL Cy Young Award three times as well as the NL MVP Award in 2014.
The Mariners won, 2-0.
Also Sunday, the Seager brothers, Corey and Kyle, faced each other for the first time in their big league careers. Corey Seager was the Dodgers’ designated hitter while Kyle, who at 30 is seven years older, played third base for the Mariners.
“It’s really cool,” Corey Seager said. “It’s hard to think about just because it’s him. You’ve been around him all your life, watched him play a ton. It’s still weird. You still kind of feel like a fan in the stands watching even though you’re in the dugout. It’s a really cool moment.”
When the lefty-hitting Corey Seager batted in the first inning, the Mariners put on a shift, opening a big hole at third. Asked if he thought about dropping in a bunt or something past his brother, he said: “You’ve got to save your free knocks during the year, right, when they count. You catch them off guard when they count, not now.”
Corey Seager said it’s been “bad timing, I guess,” that the brothers hadn’t faced each other in spring training before, usually because one of them had the day off when their teams played.
This was the only time the teams will play each other this spring.
The Mariners and Dodgers last played in the regular season in April 2015. Corey Seager made his big league debut Sept. 3 that year.
The Dodgers play at the Mariners Aug. 17-19.
Corey Seager, the 2016 NL Rookie of the Year, said their parents weren’t able to come out from North Carolina for this game, but will for the series in Seattle.
“That one’s already on the schedule. They’ll make it out for that one, for sure,” he said. “There will be a lot of people there, actually, probably.”
Kyle Seager, who made his big league debut in July 2011, said this was the second time he saw his younger brother play since Corey was 11. The other time was when the Dodgers were in the World Series last fall.
Corey Seager said he still considers his older brother a role model.
“I still ask him for help, I still ask him about things. I don’t think I really ever will stop asking him. He always will be and still is.”
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