Hernández: Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw relishes All-Star honor

It’s good that he still strikes.

A simple question about whether he was upset about not being selected for the All-Star team threw Freddie Freeman on Sunday.

“Come on,” he replied. “That’s a terrible question.”

I thought it was pretty good considering Freeman looked like he was about to vent his anger at the baseballs thrown at him in an 11-9 comeback win over the Chicago Cubs.

Unlike Julio Urías, who gave up five runs in the first inning on the day his All-Star ban was made official, he made a mark with his four-goal performance.

Next thing I knew, Freeman was barking through the clubhouse that I was the worst reporter he’d dealt with in his 13 years in the major leagues. I guess he still hasn’t met Bill Plaschke.

And this is the guy the Dodgers will be counting on in October?

hoo boy

Freeman broke down in tears during a recent visit to his old home in Atlanta and struck out again Sunday after learning of his snub, so maybe none of it matters. But, man, if I were Andrew Friedman, I wish my $162 million #3 drummer was more emotionally stable.

On the plus side, the Dodgers know what they have in Clayton Kershaw mentally.

Kershaw, 34, missed all of the postseason last year with an arm injury and didn’t know what to expect when he re-signed with them in the spring.

He missed about a month in the first half but returned to do well enough where he would almost certainly be the team’s starter in Game 1 if the playoffs started now, as he has seven in each of his last two games or pitched more innings.

Tony Gonsolin could serve better but Kershaw would be a more reliable pick given his track record.

Kershaw was rewarded on Sunday when he was named to his ninth All-Star team.

The Dodgers posted on their official Twitter account a video of the moment Kershaw and Gonsolin learned of their selection from manager Dave Roberts, and Kershaw was ecstatic.

“As the years go by, you start to appreciate things a little bit more,” Kershaw said. “Every time I serve at Dodger Stadium, every time we win, every time something significant happens, I try to absorb it a little bit more now because you never know when it’s going to be the last time. This all-star game is no different.

“I’m really looking forward to it. It will be really cool to make one at home too. I think it’s just a special place for me personally and to do that in front of a home crowd will be really cool.”

Kershaw wasn’t always like this.

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw pitches during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs.

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw plays the Chicago Cubs in the first inning on Saturday.

(Ashley Landis/Associated Press)

Back when he won the Cy Young Awards, he viewed the world in five-day cycles that kept him from appreciating the magnitude of his achievements.

“One of the great joys I’ve seen is Clayton’s growth as a person,” Roberts said. “He’s always been this focused super competitor, no emotions as far as those kinds of emotions. i think he is [now] Kind of embracing all the things he was able to achieve because nothing guarantees it will continue.

This is part of the life cycle of elite athletes who develop new perspectives when they realize they may be nearing the end.

I can’t tell you how many former bullies softened as their retirement approached, and the scowls they used to keep visitors away from their lockers turned into welcoming smiles. Jeff Kent was a whiner to the bitter end, but he was one of a kind.

The majority of longtime players make a concerted effort to enjoy what remains of their careers. You stop taking yourself so seriously.

Their powers have waned, they enjoy the easier aspects of the game.

What sets Kershaw apart is that he doesn’t have to play a minor role just to banter with teammates on the bench or be part of the occasional walk-off celebration on home plate.

Eleven years after serving at his first All-Star Game, he’ll be able to enjoy the event through his new eyes.

“I think it’s really special because I know how important it is,” Kershaw said. “I’ve had the privilege of being a part of them before.

“I think no matter how many times you’ve made an all-star team, it doesn’t take away from it’s importance. You play with a group of like-minded people who are considered the best in the world in their field.

“To be considered one of them is very special. I didn’t miss that. Maybe this time I understand a little more, so maybe a little more excited.”

He pointed out that his son Charley is now 5 years old and is enjoying the home run derby better, for example.

Kershaw said starting the All-Star Game was “a great honor.”

“But,” he said, “I’m good with everything.”

At the All-Star Game on July 19, the crowd at Dodger Stadium will be rooting for Kershaw no matter when he serves or how he plays. The fans will cheer for the man as much as they do for the player.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-07-11/column-dodgers-hernandez-clayton-kershaw-all-star-game Hernández: Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw relishes All-Star honor

Emma Bowman

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