Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers a pitch in the second inning against… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
Clayton Kershaw said the right hip that bothered him near the end of last season hasn't presented any issues this winter.
"It was never a problem for me," said Kershaw, who was in Los Angeles recently to attend a charity event hosted by Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly and participate in the team's community caravan.
Aside from adding a workout program designed to strengthen his hip, this has been a normal off-season for the 2011 National League Cy Young Award winner.
His throwing program has been the similar to what it has been in other off-seasons. He threw a bullpen session Saturday at the Dodgers' spring-training complex in Arizona.
The Dodgers appear comfortable enough with the condition of Kershaw's hip that they are expected to explore the possibility of a long-term contract extension with him before the start of spring training.
"We'll see," Kershaw said. "I don't have any expectations."
Kershaw is under contract this year for $11 million. He will be eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.
Excitement in the air
Fans appear to be responding enthusiastically to the Dodgers' off-season spending spree.
The Dodgers' first off-season FanFest drew an estimated 21,000-plus people Saturday to the Dodger Stadium. To enter the event, which was held behind center field, people formed lines that extended to, and wrapped around, the outer edges of the parking lots.
"I couldn't even believe that," Andre Ethier said. "I could only imagine what it's going to be like in spring training this year."
Ethier was one of more than a dozen active players to sign autographs. Others included Matt Kemp and newcomer Zack Greinke.
President Stan Kasten also pointed to the team's expanding season-ticket base as a positive sign. He said the team started last season with the equivalent of 17,000 full-season accounts. That figure is already at more than 20,000 and could exceed the franchise record of 27,000 by opening day. (When the team was owned by the O'Malley family, season ticket sales were capped at 27,000.)
Hanley Ramirez will play for the Dominican Republic at the World Baseball Classic, meaning the Dodgers' projected starting shortstop probably won't play much shortstop before opening day.
Ramirez played most of last season at third base and couldn't play shortstop in winter ball because of a mild shoulder injury. Jose Reyes is expected to be the Dominican shortstop at the WBC, which will take place during spring training.
Mattingly said the situation isn't ideal.
"It's really hard to say 'Don't play for your country,' " Mattingly said. "I'm kind of torn. Selfishly, I'd like Hanley to be in camp playing short every day."
When Zack met Chad
Greinke revealed that he and Chad Billingsley played on the same team in a tournament when they were in high school.
"I thought he was a bit fat at the time," Greinke said, smiling.
At some point, Greinke and some of the other players asked the coach who he thought had the best pitcher's body on the team.
"He said Billingsley," Greinke said. "I was like, 'Are you serious?' But that's where I learned it's not necessarily fat. It's a good strong base. It's obviously a plus."