GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Clayton Kershaw appears ready to pick up where he left off last season.
The reigning National League MVP and Cy Young Award winner retired all six hitters he faced in his spring debut and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Chicago White Sox 6-1 on Thursday.
Kershaw struck out three, including White Sox slugger Jose Abreu looking on a slow curve.
”It felt good,” Kershaw said. ”The first one is just good to get out there and make sure you feel good physically. The results are obviously something that you look for, but maybe not the most important thing.
”Overall, a good first day.”
Kershaw, already a three-time Cy Young Award winner at 26, was 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA for the Dodgers last year.
”It seemed like he’s been kind of hit in the last couple of springs, if I remember right,” manager Don Mattingly said. ”He was really sharp. His breaking ball was good, it looked like command was good.”
Kershaw was pleased with the early results.
”I was able to work in all my pitches and make some adjustments when I needed to,” he said, adding that he left a few sliders up in the first inning, but fixed that issue by the second.
Kershaw’s velocity and pitches seemed to be there Thursday. His next start is Tuesday against Colorado, in building toward opening day on April 6, when Kershaw will face San Diego at Dodger Stadium.
”The way you build up arm strength, hopefully your velocity is there at the outset,” Kershaw said. ”But you want to be able to do that in the regular season. At least for me, it doesn’t change a lot.”
Yasiel Puig, in his spring debut, drove in a run with a groundout against White Sox starter John Danks, who also went two innings. He gave up two hits.
Los Angeles’ O’Koyea Dickson doubled in a run in the sixth and Kyle Jensen hit a two-run homer off Michael Ynoa in the eighth. Courtney Hawkins homered in the ninth off Jeremy Kehrt for Chicago’s only run.
Danks, 29, has the longest tenure of any player with the White Sox as he enters his ninth season with Chicago. He has had to make his own adjustments after undergoing shoulder surgery in 2012.
Asked what the difference with him early in his career and now, Danks said: ”About 6 miles an hour. I feel like I know more about what I need to do than I did back then. I know I was just relying on pure talent. I’m now having to be a little smarter and trying to keep the ball in the ballpark. That’s a big thing for me. Trying to get as many groundballs and weak contact as we can.
”If we are able to do that, it will be a good year.”
Kershaw said he was aware of the new game clock in between innings in the bottom of the first inning.
”I did my normal routine in between innings, but I realized it clicked down to zero before I had thrown a pitch in the first inning,” he said. ”I don’t know if the batter was in the box. I don’t know whose fault that is, but it definitely was at zero.”
Mattingly said that pitchers Hyun-jin Ryu and Zack Greinke will make their spring debuts next week.
Greinke, who had a lubricating injection in his right elbow as a precautionary measure in an attempt to head off spring dead-arm issues, will throw batting practice Friday and start Wednesday.
Ryu (back spasms) will work against hitters Saturday and start next Thursday.
With Kenley Jansen out for a while, Mattingly said it’s too early to be concerned about that temporary vacancy in the Dodgers’ bullpen. In fact, the manager looks at the positive aspect
”You get a chance to look at some guys,” he said. ”It’s kind of a fun camp. Some of the guys, the only place you’ve seen them is on tape, and looking at the numbers. So to get a chance to look at them over the course of the spring, hopefully we can settle this a little bit.”
Jansen, who underwent surgery on his left foot two weeks ago, is likely to miss the first month of the regular season. He had 44 saves with a 2.76 ERA for the NL West champs last season.
White Sox: First-round draft pick Carlos Rodon starts Friday against San Diego in Peoria, Arizona, in a more-anticipated spring game than usual.
”We know he’s got talent,” manager Robin Ventura said of the No. 3 overall draft pick last June. ”I’m sure he’s somewhat nervous, the first time you go out there and do this either in a spring training crowd or your own teammates.”
The original plan for Friday was to start Chris Sale, but the All-Star left-hander has a broken bone in his right foot and will be sidelined for at least two more weeks.
Dodgers: Left-hander David Huff will start against the Mariners at home while Zach Lee faces the Brewers at Maryvale. Brandon McCarthy, signed as a free agent in the offseason, makes his Dodgers debut Sunday.