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Kershaw puts Dodgers first; Lilly back in action


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers Opening Day starter Clayton Kershaw said he wanted to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, but skipped it because of last year's hip impingement.

"I was definitely tempted," Kershaw said after striking out seven and allowing three runs (two earned) in three innings against the Angels on Thursday. "It would be a huge honor, and I would have loved to. But I think I owed it to the team to show I was healthy, even though I had those two starts at the end last year. I know they didn't feel great about me going. I hope I can go in four years. I definitely will have regrets watching it."

Kershaw skipped a start in mid-September because of the hip discomfort, but bounced back to make three more starts, allowing only two earned runs in 21 innings. Included was a five-hit shutout for eight innings against Colorado and a three-hitter for eight innings against the Giants.

Meanwhile, fellow lefty Ted Lilly made his first appearance since last year's shoulder surgery and allowed a solo home run to Howie Kendrick in two innings.

"I was better than I thought I would be," said Lilly. "Just to be able to command my fastball. I felt pretty good with the breaking ball, and the slider was OK. I feel better than last year, but the offseason it took awhile. It was almost a month before Spring Training when I thought I'd be ready. Before that, I had serious doubts about being ready for spring. My shoulder took awhile to rebound, but I'm at the point now where I don't feel I'm coming off surgery."

Lilly is in a dogfight for a role if everybody is healthy, as the Dodgers have eight starters for five positions. Because of the time it takes for Lilly to warm up, manager Don Mattingly said he's not a likely candidate for a bullpen role.

Lilly reiterated that he wants to start, but he wants to "win a world championship with the Dodgers" more.

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