2/14/2014 4:56 P.M. ET
Kemp's confidence high as recovery continues
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Kemp's effortless power swing is back. He increased his baseball activity on Friday's first full-squad workout, taking ground balls off the bat of first-base coach Davey Lopes and moving around like a healthy ballplayer.
Kemp still isn't running outdoors on his surgically repaired knee and either doesn't know, or won't say, when that day will come. But he did make clear how he felt about being a backup to Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier or Puig.
"I'm not a fourth outfielder. Cut that off right now," he said. "I'm not going to be a fourth outfielder. I'm here to help my team win and play every day. When the time comes to come back, I'll come back and be the same player I was when I was healthy. All of us feel the same way. We want to play every day. I won't accept that role. I can't accept that role."
Kemp said the club will have a decision to make when all four outfielders are healthy, but he won't worry about it because he can't control it.
He said he wouldn't speculate on whether he's back to 60 or 70 percent because he hasn't tested the ankle, which needed tricky microfracture repair work on the critical talus bone. He has become friendly with the Alter-G pressurized gravity treadmill, which allows the user to simulate running while removing the effects of body weight.
"I'm still the player I've always been," he said. "I've just been hurt. It's hard to be the player you are when you're hurt. I never lost confidence."
Kershaw aims to add ring to trophy collection
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- How good is Clayton Kershaw? He won his second Cy Young Award last year at age 25, and Sandy Koufax won his at age 29.
Denny McLain was 25 when he won his second Cy Young. He won three games the next year and never more than 10 in a season afterward. McLain also won a World Series.
Roger Clemens was 24 when he won his second Cy Young, and he went on to win five more. Clemens won a pair of World Series titles.
Tim Lincecum was 25 when he won his second consecutive Cy Young in 2009, and he's had one season with a winning record since. Lincecum, though, also has been on two World Series winners.
Where does Kershaw go from here? Koufax was on four World Series winners, so there's that.
"I had nine losses last year," Kershaw said. "I'll try not to lose nine games, I guess. If we could win all 33 games I start, as long as the team wins, it doesn't matter. I'd be happy with that."
"I've heard him say a perfect year for him would be if the team won every start he made and then won the World Series," catcher A.J. Ellis said.
After Kershaw won the National League Cy Young Award in 2011, he didn't exactly rest on his laurels. The next year, he finished second, and the next year he won it again.
That's Kershaw. But there's still a hole in the resume, as he pointed out when asked if he appreciates the immensity of two Cy Young Awards at age 25.
"I don't take it for granted and it's a very cool thing," he said, "but I'd trade it for a World Series ring. That's where I think we're headed and [that's] why I'm excited. A lot's got to happen, but at least I know we've got a good chance."
They had a good chance last year, a season that ended in disappointment with a blowout 9-0 loss in St. Louis. Kershaw started that Game 6 of the NL Championship Series. He was undermined by an offense that didn't score and a pair of misguided Yasiel Puig throws that made the score worse than it needed to be.
"We had a great year as a team," Kershaw said. "Had a ton of fun, but I'm not satisfied. It's always tough to end the season with a loss like that. I try not to think like that, but at the end of the day, we lost that game. I'm not dwelling on it, but it does put a damper on the season."
This spring, he came to camp with $215 million more than last time, but the record-shattering contract extension hasn't seemed to change him. "He's a very rare person," said Rick Honeycutt, the only pitching coach Kershaw has had with the Dodgers. "On and off the field, he has his priorities in order. You always want your guys doing well and going through the system and getting to the big leagues, and, obviously, he's off the charts, taking it to a different level.
"I think the person inside just wants to keep getting better. You see it in the work ethic, the mental approach, day in and day out. It's like we tell the guys, and they can see it with him, you get out what you put in. He's all in. He's that kind of guy. Very few can back it up every year, but he's prepared himself to leave it all on the field. It's human nature to be satisfied when you get to a certain point. What separates the great ones is that they aren't satisfied."
Honeycutt has seen Kershaw mature as an elite pitcher, seen him incorporate a slider almost overnight into a nasty out pitch, seen him meld pitching savvy beyond his years with the sheer power of his youth.
"What we're seeing now is he's making in-game adjustments," Honeycutt said. "Plenty of times you hear him say he didn't have his fastball, but he throws seven innings with one run on four hits. He's learned it's not just straight power, but it's strength of mind that's the separation."
Honeycutt said the money won't change Kershaw.
"He's just a different guy, with his perspective on life and willingness to help others," said Honeycutt. "Last year, going through the negotiations, he never let it affect him. He keeps everything simple."
Puig diagnosed with inflammation on throwing shoulder
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Yasiel Puig underwent an MRI on his right shoulder earlier this week before returning to the field with a limited throwing program.
The MRI revealed no serious injury and he was diagnosed with a return of inflammation that cropped up sporadically last year.
The Dodgers believe Puig tried to throw too much and too soon when position players began voluntary workouts earlier this week.
Whatever discomfort Puig feels in the right shoulder, however, hasn't hampered his swing, as he and Matt Kemp took turns launching bombs during batting practice in Friday's first full-squad workout.
Australia series causes changes at camp
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Before the Dodgers held their first full-squad workout Friday, manager Don Mattingly explained to players some of the camp adjustments necessitated by the season-opening series in Australia in late March.
Mattingly had already scheduled intrasquad games for Feb. 23-24, but he said he planned to utilize more simulated games as well.
"Everything is a little different," he said. "There is real concern that there are enough at-bats without having players go six innings early on when their legs aren't quite ready. We'll find them at-bats without having to play so much. With Minor League sim situations, they can get 10 at-bats a day. Matt [Kemp] and I have already talked doing it."
Kemp is the only position player coming off season-ending surgery, although a similar approach might be taken with Hanley Ramirez, who was limited to 86 games last year and has chronic back problems.
Players also received a pre-workout video introduction to the club's new regional cable network.
Pre-paid parking introduced to ease traffic flow
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers will implement a series of parking and traffic-flow improvements this year, including the availability of pre-paid parking.
Club president Stan Kasten said fans will be incentivized in utilizing the new system with a $10 fee per car, compared to $15 paying at entry. Premium parking will cost $35 in advance and $50 at the gate.
"The fan experience is of paramount importance to the Dodgers," Kasten said. "We have been examining ways to improve our traffic flow at Dodger Stadium. We feel one of the best ways to expedite movement through the auto gates is for fans to have a prepaid parking pass when they arrive at Dodger Stadium. Transaction times will be improved."
Kasten said the lots will be re-striped for better flow and there will be more walkways, bike racks and signage directing to underutilized entry gates.
Kasten said he also would encourage the use of public transportation, including the public bus on Sunset Boulevard, and the club will continue marketing the Metro Gold Line Chinatown and Red Line Hollywood Stations.
Last year, the Dodgers, the City of Los Angeles and LA Metro added a dedicated bus lane on Sunset Boulevard from Union Station to Elysian Park Avenue. Game tickets are honored as payment to ride the bus service and the shuttle operates 90 minutes before the game and 45 minutes after the game. For specific route and schedule information, fans can visit www.metro.net or call 323.GO.METRO.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.