MESA, Ariz. -– A star-studded pitching matchup Friday included quite a scary moment, as Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was struck in the jaw by a liner off the bat of the A’s Andy Parrino.
Fortunately for Kershaw, he jammed Parrino with a cutter and broke his bat, so Parrino didn’t hit the ball squarely. But Kershaw still fell to the ground when the incident happened in the bottom of the third, with Dodgers trainers rushing from the third base dugout to check on him.
The defending N.L. MVP and Cy Young winner got back up on his feet, and, somewhat surprisingly, stayed in the game and completed five innings of three-hit ball. Kershaw told L.A. reporters afterward that he suffered a chipped tooth.
Parrino said he was very concerned when Kershaw first went down.
“Hopefully it’s nothing too serious,” said Parrino. “Obviously he didn’t want to come out of the game, and that’s just the kind of guy he is. He battles his butt off out there. It’s always fun facing guys like that. They wanna stay in the game.”
The A’s had their own ace on the mound in Sonny Gray, and he said it was scary to watch the incident happen from the bench.
“I think it happens way too much,” Gray said. “Thankfully he was fine.”
Gray, in his first outing since being named the Opening Night starter, gave up two runs on four hits with two walks over 5 1/3 innings. He said it was no ordinary Cactus League game with Kershaw in the opposing dugout.
“When you’re going against someone as accomplished as he is, it always makes it that much more fun. I was excited to get out there today, and I’m pretty pleased with the outcome.”
Gray said he felt good with all three pitches – fastball (two and four-seam), curve and changeup. As the schedule lines up, Gray will have two more exhibition starts before the April 6 opener against the Texas Rangers. Given he’s still on a conservative pitch count at this stage of camp, he was happy to work into the sixth inning.
As for Kershaw, he was happy to escape more serious injury.
“I think I overshot it because I thought it was coming harder than it was,” Kershaw said. “It just kind of got me in the jaw … If it was serious, if I felt bad, I wouldn’t have (stayed in). It’s not worth it. It’s spring training. At the same time, we’re at the point where I only have a couple more (starts) to build up my pitch count. So it’s pretty important that I stay out there right now.”
A’s outfielder Craig Gentry has gotten to know Kershaw away from the field, and he was relieved the injury wasn’t more serious.
“It’s a spring training game,” Gentry said. “I’m sure a lot of people would have come out, especially given his track record. He’s a bulldog. He proved it.”