NEW YORK -- Clayton Kershaw is only 25, with three trips to the All-Star Game already on his resume and a remarkable career ahead of him. But he knows how fickle this game can be, how quickly moments like these can pass you by. And that's why, when asked about going through this process again, he said stuff like "try not to take any of this for granted" and "do your best to soak it all in" and "this could be my last one, so I'll try to enjoy it."
Kershaw flew into New York on Monday, met with the media, took part in a workout, watched the Chevrolet Home Run Derby, went through pregame festivities Tuesday, checked into the game in the third inning, threw 14 pitches -- resulting in three flyouts -- and that was it.
See ya next year?
Many players leave this game early, opting to spend what little All-Star break they have left with the families that come to town. But Kershaw -- who induced a lineout to center field by J.J. Hardy, a flyout to right field by Mike Trout and a lineout to right field by Dustin Pedroia -- stayed throughout, particularly enjoying Mariano Rivera checking into the eighth inning of his final All-Star Game.
"I'm glad I got to be here to see that," Kershaw said. "It was such an awesome thing, for him to get to do and for us to be a part of it. I was just happy I got to see it.
"You can't say enough good things about [Rivera]. Just a class act. When you end your career, you want to get half the recognition that he gets, just because of the way he carries himself."
Kershaw has now hurled a scoreless inning in each of his three trips to the All-Star Game, though, despite his track record, none of them have been the first.
"It's different," Kershaw said about coming in as a reliever. "But one night a year, you can figure it out."
The left-hander, the lone representative on the Dodgers, finished the first half with Major League lows in ERA (1.98) and WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched, 0.908), while ranking second in the NL strikeouts (139).
And then, around midnight ET on Wednesday, he scooped up his duffel bag and walked through the clubhouse doors -- back home, and back to the West Coast for a second half that will determine whether his Dodgers will make up their 2 1/2-game deficit in the NL West to reach the playoffs.
"It should be an exciting second half," Kershaw said.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.