Clayton Kershaw will be the Dodgers’ opening day starter.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw went 21-3 with a 1.77 earned-run average for the Dodgers in 2014. He will start Opening Day of the 2015 season. (Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — There is literally no team in baseball with a more clear-cut choice for an Opening Day starter than the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw is more than just the best starting pitcher on staff, or even a team MVP. He is the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner and Most Valuable Player.

So it came as no surprise Monday when manager Don Mattingly said that Kershaw will start Opening Day, April 6 against the San Diego Padres.

“That’s our plan,” Mattingly said.
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Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw shows his competitive fire throwing live batting practice.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Clayton Kershaw mixed all his pitches into a 40-pitch batting practice session Saturday, his first of the spring. One, a hanging slider, resulted in a home run by Juan Uribe over the left-field fence on a back field at Camelback Ranch.

Kershaw also faced Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner in what amounted to a two-inning stint. No other balls left the infield (or would have at least, if there were any actual infielders on the field).

“I’m going to have to hear about Uribe hitting a home run off me all season,” Kershaw quipped. “I’m glad I gave him some confidence for the year.”

More than a confidence boost for Uribe, the afternoon was a showcase for Kershaw’s competitiveness. The reigning National League MVP and Cy Young Award winner still has it, even when throwing live batting practice to his teammates in February.
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Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, Clayton Kershaw discuss MLB’s pace of game initiatives.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — Don Mattingly and Clayton Kershaw chimed in today on MLB’s pace-of-game initiatives, which will be enforced by umpires beginning with the first Cactus League game Wednesday.

Mattingly is of the opinion that hitters, who must keep at least one foot in the box every time they take a pitch, will be able to adapt quickly.

“Every other situation — a ball gets away, a guy throws over, guy steps off the mound, you can step out of the box at that point,” Mattingly said. “I think the biggest thing with pace-of-play is, they’re announcing the inning break at 40. They’re announcing the first hitter with 40 seconds left on the clock. At 25, the walk-up music’s got to be off. At 20, he’s got to be in the box. Those type of things are things our guys are going to have to get used to.

“I think once they get used to this it’s not going to be an issue. It’s like anything else; guys are going to adjust. You throw 100 — keep throwing 100, keep throwing all fastballs, they’re going to get hit. Our guys are going to adjust to these rules.”

So will pitchers have the bigger adjustment to make?
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