Kershaw to Stay With Big Club

The Dodgers are trying to be delicate -- and rightly so -- about the fact that teenager Clayton Kershaw has impressed them so much they want to keep him around for a while. His 1-2-3 inning Sunday wasn't the deciding factor, but it certainly didn't hurt.

Kershaw was told he would stay with the team when he came off the field after baffling three good Red Sox hitters, starters Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew and Sean Casey (Casey with a strikeout on a Sandy Koufax-like curve), and join the big club in Phoenix when they return from China.

The official word is that he is not in the mix for the fifth starting job, but a couple more innings like Sunday and and the present candidates stumble, they might buy billboard space to advertise the fact.

Still only 19 (he turns 20 on March 19), he will be handled with kid gloves. And manager Joe Torre said there was almost (an important word) no chance of him being part of the rotation at the start of the season.

"The thing that we have to make sure we put first is what's best for him," Torre said. "What's best for him is going to be the best for the organization in the long term."

Torre talked about his lack of physical experience and emotional experience, wondering what would happen when he finally hits the wall, or fails, as all players do.

"It will be a good opportunity for him to be around camp and it will be a good opportunity for us. But above all, his welfare is most important to us."

"He certainly is attractive," Torre continued. "There's no question about that. He has a great fastball and curve and knows what he is doing when he throws his change. He's the whole package."

"When he got in trouble (in the night game, he didn't throw harder, he pitched.

When writers mentioned that Red Sox manager Terry Francona wished he had Kershaw in a Red Sox uniform, Torre said of his friendly rival, "Tell him it's tampering, and I'll report him to the commissioner."

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