Kershaw to start 3rd straight opener for Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw was selected Saturday as the Los Angeles

Dodgers’ opening day starter and will become the team’s first

pitcher to start three straight openers since Derek Lowe from

2005-07.

Kershaw will take the mound April 1 against the World Series

champion San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium.

”I’m excited to do it,” he said at Camelback Ranch after the

Dodgers’ first full-squad workout. ”It’s a huge honor. The chance

to pitch on opening day is a big deal. Then after that, it’s just

once every five days from there.”

The assignment was expected for Kershaw. Dodgers manager Don

Mattingly said he spoke to the left-hander about it a day or two

after pitchers and catchers reported to camp on Tuesday.

”You like guys who are low maintenance,” Mattingly said.

”He’s been relatively healthy. He’s pretty consistent in his

outings. You don’t get big fluctuations.

”You kind of know what to count on, what to expect.”

In 2011, Mattingly announced Kershaw would start opening day on

the first day of spring training. Kershaw, the NL Cy Young Award

winner that season, pitched seven sharp innings in a 1-0 victory

over the Giants at Dodger Stadium.

In 2012, Kershaw threw three scoreless innings in Los Angeles’

5-3 victory at San Diego. The two-time All-Star, 14-9 last year

with a 2.53 ERA, left after the third inning because of flulike

symptoms.

Kershaw said he won’t approach the 2013 opener any different

than he did the previous two years, despite expectations heightened

by the Dodgers’ busy offseason. They spent $200 million to add

right-hander Zack Greinke and South Korean lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu to

the pitching staff. Greinke is projected to be the No. 2

starter.

”It’s probably the same as every day, opening day,” said

Kershaw, troubled by a hip injury last season. ”Every opening day

that I’ve been part of has been an awesome atmosphere.

”I know there’s a lot excitement about this season, for sure.

I’m not debating that. But opening day is opening day no matter

whether it’s here or somewhere else. I expect the fans to be as

awesome as they always are.”

Kershaw will make $11.5 million this year. He is eligible for

free agency after 2014 season and figures to be in line for a big

contract following Felix Hernandez’s $175 million, seven-year deal

with Seattle.

Kershaw said spring training has started with the same kind of

optimism he’s experienced in other camps.

”We’ve got a great team,” he said. ”I’m excited for the

season to start, just like every year. But until the games start,

nothing has changed as far as I’m concerned. I’m not trying to

downplay anything that has happened to our team. But at the same

time, it’s always exciting. Every team comes to camp thinking

they’re going to win the World Series.”

NOTES: Dodgers President Stan Kasten said season-ticket sales

are at a record 27,000, about 10,000 more than the team had sold by

last year’s opener. … Mattingly grabbed a bat and faced several

of his pitchers during a bullpen session. One of them was Ryu,

whose every move is followed by a crowd of South Korean reporters.

”He’s got a little Sid Fernandez in him,” Mattingly said. ”He

kind of catches you off guard. His motion is a little bit

different.”