Kershaw has no plans to dial back intensity

Dodgers ace says he feels good after first bullpen session

Kershaw has no plans to dial back intensity

PHOENIX -- Dodgers pitchers and catchers reported to camp Wednesday and ace Clayton Kershaw wasted no time proving his health by throwing a bullpen session along with a half dozen others.

"I'm doing good," said Kershaw, who missed 2 1/2 months last season with a herniated disk before returning to be a postseason factor. "I'm excited to give it a good test in Spring Training. But no worries or concerns for me."

Kershaw said he has changed his conditioning routine to manage his back issue, but had already thrown "four or five times" off a mound before arriving in Arizona, and expects to pitch in an exhibition game the first time through the rotation.

• Spring Training: Information | Tickets | Schedule | Gear

"The routine is a little different, but not drastic changes, which is great," he said. "I feel like I'm still able to get the work in. I'm a little more aware. Instead of my pushing through stuff, I'm just a little more aware. For the most part, not a lot has changed and it's good."

Kershaw, who turns 29 next month and has more than nine years of MLB service, said he won't dial back his intensity in hopes of extending his career. He can opt out of his contract after the 2018 season.

"I'm not a big future guy," he said. "I just want to pitch, I want to make every start and I'll do what I have to do and worry about next year when I have to. If it costs me down the road, then it does."

Kershaw's adorable workout partner

Kershaw said he was excited that management kept the nucleus of last year's team together by re-signing free agents Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner, Rich Hill and particularly Chase Utley (pending) after it seemed he was squeezed out by the acquisition of second baseman Logan Forsythe.

"Having those three guys, and having Chase back after everybody had written it off that it wouldn't work out, is such an added bonus," Kershaw said. "Everybody talks about intangibles, but I really mean it, regardless of how he plays, what he does in the clubhouse is the best I've ever seen."

He welcomed the addition of former Giant Sergio Romo to the bullpen.

"It's a different look," he said of Romo and his slider. "They love spin rate here and we've got a lot of spin rate, high-fastball pitchers, and now we've got a guy that can paint a slider and get guys out. Nice to have him around, for sure."

Kershaw said he gave serious consideration to pitching in the World Baseball Classic.

"It's an honor, I want to do it, I took a lot of things into consideration, but thought it was best not to," he said. "I didn't take it lightly, because of the respect I have for Joe [Torre, MLB executive and former Dodgers manager] and the respect I have for putting on that uniform. It was tough."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.