GLENDALE, Ariz. – Clayton Kershaw is pleased practically everybody in the sport seized the opportunity to tee off on the cheating Houston Astros and Commissioner Rob Manfred's handling of the scandal over the past several days.
The Los Angeles Dodgers' veteran ace also believes it's time for baseball to go back to work.
“This type of thing has never happened before, and people are upset by it,” Kershaw said Tuesday after the Dodgers' first full squad workout of the spring. “People feel cheated, and rightfully so. The only thing I will say now is we’ve got a great season coming up. Everybody is really excited about baseball. Baseball is in a great spot. We’ve got a lot of incredible players.”
Kershaw echoed the vibe around the clubhouse with the team that was among the most damaged by — and the angriest about — the Astros' use of illegal methods during their 2017 World Series championship run. The Dodgers haven't cooled down about the revelations, but Kershaw thinks that energy can be channeled into a quest to win an untainted ring in 2020.
MVP Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner ripped Houston and Manfred with equal zeal, while Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen called it "the worst thing that could have happened to baseball. Worse than steroids, in my opinion.’’
Three-time AL MVP Mike Trout from the crosstown Los Angeles Angels joined the chorus Monday, and Kershaw was glad to see that as well.
“To hear that you’ve lost respect from the best player in the game like that, that hurts,” Kershaw said. “I think the message is getting sent loud and clear that this is unprecedented."
Kershaw repeatedly made the point that the players' righteous indignation can serve as fuel to power a loaded team that added Mookie Betts and David Price shortly before camp opened.
Dodgers President Stan Kasten had a simple message when he addressed the team during its morning clubhouse meeting: the Astros' misdeeds are terrible, but that won't help the Dodgers this summer.
“If you look at the last four, five years, we’ve won more baseball games than anyone in baseball,” manager Dave Roberts said. “So it's just the challenge of putting the blinders on, and now it’s time to play baseball and get better each day.”
Kershaw said the negativity of the atmosphere around the cheating scandal is putting a damper on a typical time of optimism.
“I love baseball,” Kershaw said. “I’m excited about it, and I’m just thinking about the 12-year-old kid that hears all this stuff, and it’s hard to decipher. It’s just a lot of negative, negative, negative, and rightfully so. It’s a lot of stuff that’s going on that shouldn’t have happened. But at the same time, this season is happening. We’re excited about it.”
Kershaw said he would like to see more headlines about the Washington Nationals, who knocked the seven-time NL West champion Dodgers out of the division series last October. That defeat ended LA's 106-victory season in disappointing fashion coming off back-to-back NL pennants.
Once the focus turns away from the Astros, Kershaw also hopes to hear more talk about the Dodgers' renewed commitment to winning, particularly with the acquisitions of Betts and Price.
“The Dodgers are doing all they can to win,” said Cubs star Kris Bryant, who has also been subjected to trade speculation. "They really want to win, and that’s kind of admirable. They’re really going for it. They traded away a really good outfielder that really helped their team last year for maybe one year of Mookie Betts, which they saw as a chance to get them a World Series. Good for them. I wish more teams would kind of follow that in terms of really trying to win, go all in.”
NOTES: Dodgers infielder Tyler White played 22 games for the Astros during the 2017 season after getting called up late in the summer. He apologized for being adjacent to a scheme that was “wrong,” but he also implied he wasn't around the team enough to get much benefit from the sign-stealing system: "Did I use it? I really wasn’t there that year. ... What’s come out is wrong. What happened, the way it was just taken to too high of a level, the way it was worked, the technology and everything.” White was designated for assignment last week, but cleared waivers and returned to camp as a non-roster invitee.
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed.
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