Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw said he is not focused on “selfish goals” and that he agreed with the decision to be pulled from the Dodgers 7-0 victory over the Twins after throwing seven perfect innings on Wednesday.
The veteran left-hander was red hot on a frigid day in Minneapolis, throwing 80 pitches and striking out 13 in his season debut after battling an elbow injury that cost him part of last season and all of the playoffs.
Baseball fans hoped to witness just the 24th perfect game in MLB history but Kershaw said it was the right call to come out.
“I would have loved to have stayed but there are bigger things,” Kershaw told reporters.
“As much as I would have wanted to do it, I’ve only thrown 75 pitches in a simulated game. I haven’t gone six innings, let alone seven.
“Sure I would have loved to have done it. But maybe I’ll get another chance. Who knows?”
The three-time Cy Young award winner helped the Dodgers to a championship in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season and his priority is staying healthy as the favoured Dodgers look to add an eighth championship.
“I knew going in today that my pitch count wasn’t going to be 100 or even 90.
“It’s a hard thing to do, to have to come out of a game when you’re doing that, but we’re here to win and this was the right choice.”
Kershaw admitted he felt bad for catcher Austin Barnes.
“It’s fun to get to catch one of those,” Kershaw said.
“I wanted to do it with Barnesy. But at the end of the day those are individual things, those are selfish goals. We’re trying to win and that’s all we’re here for.”
Barnes said he was impressed with Kershaw’s command but could tell that the 34-year-old who is playing in his 15th season was tiring.
“He was rolling and when you get into that groove with him, it’s like you’re on autopilot,” Barnes said.
“Later on in the season when he’s a little more built up, I think he goes back out there. But it was the right call to take him out.”
The Dodgers (3-2) also had four home runs in the game and will now enjoy a happy plane ride back to sunny Los Angeles, where they will take on the Cincinnati Reds in their home opener on Thursday.