Defending National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw made a pit stop in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Wednesday night to make his latest rehab start as a member of the Dodgers Double-A affiliate Chattanooga Lookouts.
While it’s a far cry from Chavez Ravine, Kershaw pitched in front of a sellout crowd of 6,318, and gave up two runs over five innings while striking out nine on his way to a no decision. Kershaw finished up his work with the game tied at 2-2, with the Tennessee Smokies ultimately pulling out a 4-3 victory over the home team.
“I would like to have gotten through six or seven innings, but I had a good time working with these guys,” Kershaw told the Chattanooga Times Free Press in a post game interview. “It’s tough when pitch counts are in the back of your mind. Obviously the main goal of why I was here was to get my pitch count up and be ready for 100-plus pitches in the big leagues.”
The 26-year-old southpaw threw 86 pitches last night, an improvement over the 56 pitches he threw over five scoreless innings of two-hit ball for the Single-A Rancho Cucamonga last Friday. Now with two rehab starts under his belt, Kershaw could rejoin the Dodgers rotation as soon as Monday night, but no such announcement has been made as of yet.
Kershaw kicked off the MLB 2014 in fine fashion with a season opening win down under in Australia against the rival Diamondbacks, but was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career shortly thereafter with strained lower back.
Although he has performed well throughout his rehab journey, Kershaw said after the game that he is looking forward to getting back with the big club.
“I’ve learned I don’t like it,” Kershaw said of his stint on the DL. “As much as you try and be a part of this team, our team is playing right now while I’m in Chattanooga. It’s a weird process for me, and you kind of feel isolated a little bit. Hopefully I never have to do it again.”
Wednesday night’s crowd was the biggest in Chattanooga since last season when Yasiel Puig hit .313 with 8 HRs, 37 RBIs, and 13 SBs for the Lookouts over 40 games, which ultimately led to him being called up and claiming an everyday spot with the Dodgers.
A healthy Kershaw will be a welcomed addition to the Dodgers’ staff, as the club currently sits 1.5 games behind the rival San Francisco Giants with a 15-12 record.