Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
After four months of the regular season were lost due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally set to begin their shortened 60-game schedule on Thursday with an Opening Day matchup against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium.
Clayton Kershaw will take the mound for his franchise-record ninth start on Opening Day, but first without any fans in attendance. “It’s going to be very different, obviously,” he said of the unusual circumstances.
“Creating that excitement and buzz, I thought about how I can create that nervous energy that kind of gets you going. That adrenaline. I think facing another team and understanding the game counts will internally create some of that.
“It’s obviously not going to be the same without fans here, but I think what we all have to understand and keep in mind is how excited people are. You hear about people that are so fired up just to watch a live sporting event on TV. That’s where I am right now.
“I’m so thankful they have golf tournaments every weekend, just so I can watch a live sporting event. It’s so exciting to me. I think people will be equally excited with baseball. It might not feel the same way in the stadium, it might not feel the same way around here and different things like that, but for the people watching at home, it will mean something to them.
“We need to remember when we go out there that there still are a lot of people watching and they still want us to win just as bad.”
While Opening Day will have a much different look than years past, Kershaw is still amped to take the mound for the Dodgers. “I’m still very excited about starting Opening Day,” he reiterated.
“Especially when it didn’t look very good for a while that we would get to play. As far as the excitement and the season goes, very excited. Almost a sigh of relief, really, that the three months you spent working and trying to stay ready, and then the three weeks here, it might actually pay off into some type of season.
“Our team has a lot of special guys and special talent. It’s not going to look the same, it’s going to be a lot different than what we expected, but at the end of the day it’s still baseball and I’m excited about that.”
Kershaw changeup a work in progress
Throughout Summer Camp, Kershaw experimented with different grips for his changeup. “I feel good with it,” he said of the progress that was made.
“Good might not be the right word. I feel average with it. I’m going to be honest, it’s not going to be a pitch I’m throwing 25% of the time or something like that.
“If there’s situations I can mix it in and throw it five to 10 times a game, make it something that at least is in the back of hitters’ minds as a fourth pitch to think about, that would be a goal. I think I have the ability to do that. We’ll see what happens.”
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