Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly got the least surprising news out of the way first on Tuesday, as pitchers and catchers reported to Dodgers spring training camp at Camelback Ranch. Clayton Kershaw will start on opening day for the Dodgers, at Petco Park in San Diego on April 5.
Mattingly on Tuesday was still in awe of Kershaw's 2011 campaign, in which the southpaw was 21-5 with a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts, but noted that with spring training now here it is time to focus on 2012. "There has been so much talk of Clayton all winter, and rightfully so with the season he had last year, but you might as well drop it in the ocean now, because it's gone. We have to start over," Mattingly said.
When asked how could Kershaw possibly improve on last season, Mattingly said focus and consistency would be the key for his ace. "Can you stay at that level? You have to fight to stay at that level, because as soon as you let your guard down you aren't at that level," Mattingly said.
"It's nice to have something to look forward to," said Kershaw on Tuesday.
Kershaw avoided salary arbitration with a two-year, $19 million contract earlier in February, but said he didn't let the process affect his offseason. "I wasn't worried about [going to arbitration], but at the same time I'm glad it's over with," said Kershaw.
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