LOS ANGELES -- Thursday marked the shortest start of the season for Clayton Kershaw and he was not happy about it.
Kershaw was lifted after just five innings in which he allowed three runs and threw only 80 pitches for his briefest outing in over a calendar year, although the Dodgers went on to beat the D-backs, 6-3, at Dodger Stadium. Facing a three-run deficit, manager Don Mattingly decided to trade Kershaw's arm for an able bat and pinch-hit for the reigning National League MVP in the bottom of the fifth. While Kershaw's pinch-hitter, Austin Barnes, didn't record a hit, the Dodgers did erupt for a six-run frame to take the lead for good.
Between innings, Kershaw was seen in the Dodgers' dugout having an animated discussion with Mattingly.
"He doesn't ever want to come out. We just had to try to score, down three runs," Mattingly said. "It never bothers me. Guys want to be competitive and stay in the game, that never bothers me at all. That's just part of it. I make that decision, you don't like it, we can talk about it later."
As for Kershaw, he declined to discuss the incident after the game.
"I'm not going to talk about that at all. If you guys want to talk about the game, I'm more than happy to talk about it," Kershaw said.
When asked about his emotions in regards to the argument, Kershaw responded simply: "Do you have a baseball question?"
When asked what people will infer from watching the situation and Kershaw refusing to elaborate, the ace held firm.
"Make it up then, that's fine," Kershaw said. "It's between Donnie and I. No one else needs to know."
While Mattingly is concerned with trying to keep his players rested while heading into the postseason, he said Thursday's move was purely an in-game decision.
"We try to monitor as much as we can, but this was more of a baseball decision today. We're down three runs, we have to try to score," Mattingly said, who added he was close to yanking Kershaw for a pinch-hitter the inning prior when the Dodgers had runners on the corners with two out and Kershaw on deck, but Scott Schebler struck out to end the inning.
"He's emotional. It's part of his game, it's part of what he does to get ready to pitch. It's over for me, I'm sure it's over for him," Mattingly said. "I hope he trusts me, I trust him. I don't get offended by what went on today at all."
Steve Bourbon is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.