PEORIA, Ariz. — Clayton Kershaw‘s spring debut was quick and efficient.
“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 the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the World Series on Nov. 1.
The lefty, who will turn 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 he 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 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 National League 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 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 has 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 will play at the Mariners Aug. 17-19.
Corey Seager, the 2016 NL Rookie of the Year, said the siblings’ parents weren’t able to come out from North Carolina for this game, but they 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 this past 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,” he said. “I don’t think I really ever will stop asking him. He always will be and still is.”
Grading the Yankees' offseason? All depends on whom you ask
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Masahiro Tanaka returning to Japan after 7 seasons with New York Yankees
After seven years with the New York Yankees, free-agent right-hander Masahiro Tanaka announced Thursday he will return to Japan to pitch for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Nippon Professional Baseball League.
“I have decided to return to Japan and play for the Rakuten Eagles for the 2021 season,” Tanaka wrote on Twitter. “I wanted to make sure and touch base with you, and thank you for all the love and support you have given me for the past 7 seasons.”
“I feel extremely fortunate for having the opportunity to take the field as a member of the New York Yankees, and play in front of all you passionate fans. it has been an honor and a privilege! Thank you so much!!”
— 東北楽天ゴールデンイーグルス (@Rakuten__Eagles) January 28, 2021
The 32-year-old, coming off a season in which he missed some time after being hit in the head by former Yankees teammate Giancarlo Stanton‘s shot during live batting practice, just completed the final year of a $155 million, seven-year deal.
A two-time All-Star selection, the Japanese right-hander spent all seven of his MLB seasons as a Yankees starter from 2014-20 and has been one of the most consistent starting pitchers in the majors over that span, going 78-46 in 173 starts.
Tanaka posted a 3-3 record with a 3.56 ERA — down from 4.45 in 2019 — in 10 starts during the pandemic-shortened season of 2020.
Tanaka was found to have a partially torn ligament in his pitching elbow during the 2014 season, and from then on the Yankees tried to give him extra rest between starts at times. He made a $22 million base salary in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons and $23 million in 2020.
Tanaka pitched well in the playoffs during his time in the Bronx, going 5-4 with a 4.18 ERA, 44 strikeouts and 15 walks in 10 starts over 54 innings. He had his best postseason run in 2017 when he went 2-1 with a 0.90 ERA, 18 strikeouts and three walks in 20 innings during the Division Series against Cleveland and League Championship Series versus Houston.
Prior to joining the Yankees, Tanaka was 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA in seven seasons with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, striking out 1,238 in 1315 innings.
Toronto Blue Jays finalizing trade for New York Mets’ Steven Matz
Matz, a 29-year-old left-hander, agreed to a $5.2 million, one-year deal with the Mets in December.
That deal came after he had the poorest of his six seasons, going 0-5 with a 9.68 ERA while earning $1,851,852 in prorated pay from a $5 million salary. He was dropped from the rotation after starting 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA in five starts, then made three relief appearances along with a spot start.
Matz is 31-41 with a 4.35 ERA over 107 career starts and five relief appearances.
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