Rookie Kershaw gets help from legend

Rookie Kershaw gets help from legend

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- It was one of those classic Dodgertown moments of the past creating the future.

It was the original Sandy Koufax and the next ... well ... better not go there just yet.

But no doubt Clayton Kershaw has the makings of a very special left-handed pitcher. And when Kershaw threw his bullpen session on Tuesday, the most special left-handed pitcher of them all was there to guide him.

Koufax watched the teenager, offered him tips, shared some knowledge. Koufax retired 22 years before Kershaw was born, but the 19-year-old knows who he is and what it means when a Hall of Fame legend interrupts his retirement to make you a better pitcher.

"It was awesome," said Kershaw, who was introduced to Koufax last Spring Training. "It was great. He gave me a couple suggestions. Any time you get advice from a guy like that, it's really cool."

Promoted to the Major League clubhouse on Sunday, Kershaw said he read a book about Koufax, so he knows "he's one of, if not the best left-handed pitcher of all time."

Kershaw, who has a 97-mph fastball and the kind of off-the-table curveball Koufax could appreciate, said he's been fighting a cold and didn't have his best curveball during the session, drawing help from Koufax.

"He gave me a couple of things to try, showed me how to hide the ball better, told me to stay healthy," Kershaw said. "He saw that my delivery is a little unorthodox, but he said not to change it, and I'll listen to him."

Kershaw's delivery includes a slight leg hesitation as he begins to shift forward, which hitters say makes him deceptive.

"It's not as fluid as some people," said Kershaw, "but I still get to the same spot as anybody else. I've done it a long time and I don't think I could change if I wanted to. It was suggested to help me stay back on pitches and I've just stuck with it."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.