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Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw has a smooth but painful outing

Left-hander holds Texas scoreless over six innings but is hit on the left leg by a batted ball. 'It might be a little sore tomorrow,' Kershaw says.

March 16, 2013|By Dylan Hernandez

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- To Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly, Clayton Kershaw looks ready for his opening-day assignment — that is, unless his leg swells up overnight.

Kershaw was struck on his left Achilles tendon by a batted ball during what were otherwise six near-perfect innings Saturday against the Texas Rangers. David Murphy's fourth-inning line drive accounted for one of only two hits Kershaw gave up.

"It might be a little sore tomorrow," Kershaw said. "I'll ice it tonight. It should be fine."

Kershaw didn't give up any runs or walks in the Dodgers' 4-0 defeat, lowering his spring earned-run average to 3.79. His pitch count was set at 90, but he completed his six allotted innings in only 70. He finished his workday with some extra throws off the bullpen mound.

Looking ahead to the Dodgers' April 1 season opener against the San Francisco Giants, Mattingly said, "He looks ready."

Kershaw is scheduled to make two more starts in the exhibition season.

The former Cy Young Award winner has been hard on himself this winter, but said Saturday that he was rounding into regular-season form.

"It felt good today," Kershaw said. "I felt I had better fastball command. I was able to mix in some breaking balls for strikes.

"Definitely some things to work on, but it's continued gradual improvements from the last starts. Overall, I'm happy with the progression."

Carl Crawford, Zack Greinke are on the mend

Carl Crawford could play in his first game for the Dodgers on Sunday, as he is tentatively set to be their designated hitter in their split-squad contest against the Milwaukee Brewers at Camelback Ranch.

Crawford, who is recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery, has hit in minor league games for the last three days. He has also resumed a throwing program.

Crawford's last major league game was Aug. 19, with the Boston Red Sox.

The Dodgers are also optimistic that Zack Greinke will be able to throw a light bullpen session Sunday. Greinke received an injection of platelet-rich plasma in his sore right elbow Monday and has played catch the last two days.

Birthday bashed

Closer Brandon League was hit hard on his 30th birthday, allowing six of the seven Rangers he faced to reach base. League gave up four runs and four hits, including a home run by Murphy.

"What a birthday outing, huh?" League said.

The problems were mechanical, League said.

"I just felt like I was hitting and missing with the stuff we've been working on," League said. "I felt like I was inconsistent with staying back. I was leaking out in front, especially with a runner on base."

Problems with mechanics cost League his job as the Seatle Mariners' closer early last season. Those issues were fixed when he was traded to the Dodgers and started working with coaches Ken Howell and Rick Honeycutt.

League and Howell have performed drills this spring to ensure that League remains balanced. League said he hasn't had any significant mechanical problems this spring and is confident that what happened Saturday isn't a sign of what is to come.

"Get it out of the way, right? " League said. "We'll look at the video tomorrow and see exactly what I was doing."

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

twitter.com/dylanohernandez

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