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Clayton Kershaw isn't concerned with pitch counts

The left-hander, usually limited to around 100 pitches a start by Dodgers Manager Joe Torre, wants to be know for going deep into games.

September 04, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

Clayton Kershaw says he understands why the Dodgers are monitoring how many pitches he throws, that he even appreciates how Manager Joe Torre limits him to more or less 100 pitches every time he starts.

But he doesn't necessarily like it.

"It's nice to know that they're trying to take care of my arm," the 21-year-old Kershaw said. "At the same time, you never want to be taken out of a game."

Kershaw, who starts today in the opening game of a three-game series against San Diego, said he has given a lot of thought to the subject of pitch counts.

He said he knows that pitchers get hurt more often these days, but that they also have longer careers.

"I think everybody's arm is different," Kershaw said, adding that he thinks his prized left limb is the kind that can withstand the heaviest of workloads.

Kershaw said he wanted to one day be known as a pitcher who gets replaced strictly based on his effectiveness, not on the number of pitches he has thrown -- like Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain.

"The reason people say they're in the upper echelon is because they're effective for so long," he said. "That's where I'm trying to get."

Fighting history

The Dodgers' bullpen has pitched 467 2/3 innings, the second-most in baseball. (San Diego ranks first with 476 1/3 innings.)

In the previous 12 seasons, only one team that had a bullpen that ranked in the top 10 in the majors in innings pitched during the regular season played in the World Series -- the 2007 Colorado Rockies, who were 10th with 528 2/3 innings.

No World Series-winning team in that span ranked higher than 19th in that category and six of the 12 championship clubs ranked in the bottom five.

But bullpen catcher Mike Borzello scoffed at the notion that the Dodgers' heavy use of relievers would spell doom come October.

Borzello said this team reminds him of the 1996 New York Yankees, for whom he was a bullpen catcher. Like these Dodgers, those Yankees didn't have starters who routinely pitched deep into games.

The Yankees' bullpen that season ranked sixth in innings pitched and had a 4.10 earned-run average, 11th-best in baseball. The '09 Dodgers have a 3.23 ERA that ranks first.

Of course, there's one major difference.

"I had a little secret emerge," Torre said, recalling the '96 Yankees.

That secret was Mariano Rivera, who often pitched two innings of middle relief.

There's no crying in baseball?

The hit had absolutely no impact on the outcome of the game, as the Dodgers were well on their way to a 4-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night when Doug Mientkiewicz singled to center field.

But it was significant enough to draw tears of joy from Mientkiewicz, who was told he wouldn't play again this season when he dislocated his shoulder in April.

Done receiving congratulatory high-fives from teammates in the dugout, Mientkiewicz ducked into the clubhouse and disappeared for 10 minutes. "I went and found a quiet place," he said, not disclosing the location. "It was in the building. I knew no one would find me. The emotions exploded."

Trainer Stan Conte, who oversaw Mientkiewicz's rehabilitation assignment, admitted, reluctantly, that he was also touched by the moment.

"I got misty-eyed," Conte said.


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