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04/02/10 10:00 AM ET

Kershaw relishes time in big leagues

Dodgers starter discusses music, Torre, media and more

He's 22, left-handed, has a fastball in the mid-90s with a 12-to-6 curve and he's starting to trust the changeup and slider.

Who wouldn't want to be Clayton Kershaw?

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The Dodgers' ace-in-training took time out of his spring to field questions from MLB.com ranging from Joe Torre's managing style to the pitcher's favorite musical choices to who keeps him accountable in his life.

MLB.com: What is the most surprising challenge about being a Major Leaguer?

Kershaw: I think I understood what it would be like, but that doesn't mean I was necessarily prepared for it all. Pitching-wise, the patience that Major League hitters show and the understanding they have of your pitches is something I wasn't really expecting. The first time you throw, every team has a blueprint of what you're going to do.

MLB.com: What is the most pleasant surprise about being a Major Leaguer?

Kershaw: I knew it would be cool to go to the different cities, but to see the ballparks that you grew up watching on television as a kid, that's pretty fun, just to go to the new cities and stadiums that you've never seen before. Like, this year, we get to go to Fenway Park. I'm already excited about getting to see Fenway.

MLB.com: Let's get to some personal favorites -- what is your favorite CD, favorite entertainer, favorite concert, favorite food?

Kershaw: I like all kinds of music, but right now I really like Josh Turner's CD. I'm also a big Taylor Swift fan. I've only seen two concerts in my life -- no, three. I saw Rascal Flatts twice and once I saw Brad Paisley with Taylor Swift the opening act. Favorite homecooked meal? I love steak and a baked potato, tough to beat. But I also like stir-fry

MLB.com: Some clubs allow starting pitchers to select clubhouse music before their start, other starters just go with an iPod. What's your preference?

Kershaw: I did the iPod the first year in the Majors, different music each time, but I didn't like it and didn't do it last year. I started doing it in high school; I thought it helped me get more focused, but I didn't like it.

MLB.com: Look way into the future -- when your playing days are over, what would you want to do?

Kershaw: I've always thought about it but haven't put a lot of thought into it and hopefully it's a long ways off, but right now I'd say something in the game. Maybe not professionally, but helping out a high school team. Something so I can stay at home and be able to feel needed or feel useful. I don't know about a job. Retirement's not going to suit me well.

Early schedule
Maybe the schedule makers didn't hear that the Dodgers left Brooklyn. Before April is over, the Dodgers will have traveled to five cities in the Eastern time zone. Only six of the first 28 games are against NL West teams and only six of the first 21 are at home. On the other hand, they won't play a division winner from last year until they host St. Louis in June and 10 of their first 22 are against teams that finished last in 2009.

Interleague Play
The Red Sox and the Yankees are on the Interleague schedule for the Dodgers. That means Manny Ramirez facing his old Red Sox teammates at Fenway Park June 18-20, and Joe Torre's old Yankees club coming to Dodger Stadium the following weekend June 25-27. The Dodgers also host the Detroit Tigers May 21-23 and have their traditional home-and-home series with the Angels, June 11-13 at Dodger Stadium and June 22-24 at Angels Stadium.

Key home dates:
June 7-9 . A three-game series with the Cardinals, who probably haven't forgotten who swept them out of the playoffs last October.
June 25-27 . This will be Joe Torre's first opportunity to manage against the franchise he led to four World Series, but left on sour terms.
Aug. 30-Sept. 1 . It's those dreaded Phillies again, the team that eliminated the Dodgers from the NL Championship Series the past two years.

MLB.com: You hang a lot with Josh Lindblom. When do you think he will join you on the Major League pitching staff?

Kershaw: I'm not a coach or scout or anything like that, but just from a peer perspective, I don't see why he wouldn't be up this year. Talent-wise, I don't see why he's not on now, now, but I know there's a lot of other stuff that goes into it. I've been through it. He's got to be a little patient. You're not going to get there any faster by thinking about it.

MLB.com: Tell us something we don't know about Joe Torre.

Kershaw: One thing a lot of people misunderstand about a manager, they have to manage every little thing. I learned as a young guy coming up there's a lot you can learn just by being there. For him, allowing me to figure things out on my own has helped me more than I can understand. When you're doing good, he doesn't say much. When you're doing bad, he doesn't say much. You can always tell, when I'm having struggles, sometimes he lets you struggle. Other times he just tells you it's going to be all right. He picks his spots really well. He doesn't overmanage you or analyze. He just understands people really well.

MLB.com: Have you felt the media intruding into your life?

Kershaw: For me, I look at it two ways. Somebody wants to talk to you, and that's probably a good thing. Most of the time you're doing something that warrants wanting to talk to you, which is a cool way to look at it. But you don't have to tell them anything you don't want to. You can be as open and honest as you can, but it doesn't mean you can't withhold what you don't want anyone else to know.

MLB.com: If you have a personal flaw, it's ...?

Kershaw: I'm not very decisive off the field. I don't worry about much of anything off the field. I don't have an opinion on a whole lot of stuff. That can be frustrating to people around me. My fiance gets mad at me because I can't make a decision on where to eat or what to do that day. I'm just, "Oh, whatever." The people I'm around would like me to voice my opinion more.

MLB.com: Who keeps you grounded and accountable?

Kershaw: My friends back home keep me humble and grounded. They don't care that I play baseball. They just like to have a good time and could care less what I do on the baseball field. I can just be one of their buddies. And my fiance keeps me accountable for just me as a person. She understands when I'm not doing something that I should. She keeps me the person I should be and the person I want to be.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.