SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Clayton Kershaw has a Cy Young Award, a $19 million contract and the demeanor of an ace with the weight of his team's future on his left shoulder.
Five days before his Opening Day start in San Diego, Kershaw was roughed up for three runs in 3 2/3 innings on six hits by the defending National League West champion Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday.
"I do worry that he puts too much pressure on himself to do more than he can do. How can he do more than last year?" asked manager Don Mattingly. "How can he even do that again? That's a lot. All we want is for him to keep us in the game and give us a chance to win. He doesn't have to strike out everybody or pitch nine innings every start."
Arizona's Jason Kubel, who was pursued by the Dodgers over the winter, doubled and homered, the second home run by a left-handed hitter off Kershaw in his last two starts. Kershaw allowed three homers all last season to lefties.
"Not very good," Kershaw said of his outing. "I gave up runs and hits, and usually that constitutes a bad outing. I like to pitch better whenever I go out there. It's no fun to pitch bad. It doesn't count until April 5. I hope I got this out of my system."
Kershaw has a 2.45 ERA in five spring starts, 19 hits allowed, 16 strikeouts and eight walks in 22 innings. Last spring he was very similar -- 2.49, 26 hits, 20 strikeouts, six walks, 25 1/3 innings.
Kershaw said he couldn't remember if he felt any different last spring. One difference is that he reported to camp this spring with mid-back stiffness, but all parties insist he's healthy and not complaining of any ailment.
Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said Kershaw has been frustrated late in camp with an inconsistent slider.
"He wants to be perfect," said Honeycutt. "At the same time, that's what makes him so good. He's never satisfied. He knows he can improve."