GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will be ready wherever and whenever his manager wants.
With the Dodgers playing their opening series against Arizona in Australia March 22-23, there is a chance he can start three of the NL West champions' first six games.
"I'll pitch when they tell me to," Kershaw said Sunday. "I'll be ready."
The two-time Cy Young Award winner could start March 22 in Sydney, March 30 in San Diego and the Dodgers' April 4 home opener. But manager Don Mattingly thinks that might be asking too much from his ace who pitched 236 innings in the regular season last year.
"We have to be mindful of Clayton, the number of innings he pitched last year and the short winter," Mattingly said Sunday before Kershaw pitched batting practice for the first time this spring.
"It's not being cautious or babying. It's being mindful of him," Matting said. "He's a workhorse. He pitches deep into games. We have to take care of him, give him an inning off here and there when we can."
The Dodgers have yet to announce their rotation, and Mattingly said how many times Kershaw pitches early one depends on the makeup of the starting five.
"We want to keep other guys on schedule," Mattingly said. "Otherwise, you'll have guys who may not pitch for 12 days. Again, we look at all the options. This spring will tell us what's going on. Is Clayton going good, is Zack Greinke feeling good? How's the spring going on? Is it a little rough? Whatever it is, it factors into making our decision."