Is it Monday yet? Kershaw ready for opener

Dodgers lefty strikes out four Indians over three scoreless innings

Is it Monday yet? Kershaw ready for opener

PHOENIX -- Clayton Kershaw's final Cactus League start of 2016 was delayed a few minutes because he was missing the important tool of his trade: the ball.

But once the umpire tossed him a ball and a teammate threw him a rosin bag, the three-time National League Cy Young Award winner stepped on the mound and quickly made up for lost time in the Dodgers' 4-3 loss to the Indians on Wednesday.

Kershaw retired the first two batters he faced before giving up a single to Cleveland designated hitter Carlos Santana. He then struck out Mike Napoli, the first of four strikeouts on the afternoon for the staff ace.

Kershaw, who will open the season Monday against the Padres in San Diego, allowed two hits in three scoreless innings. He walked two batters.

Kershaw said he felt good after the 57-pitch outing. How good?

"We'll find out on Monday," he said.

Kershaw followed the quick first inning by striking out Collin Cowgill and Roberto Perez to end the second. He struck out Jose Ramirez to start the third. Kershaw then walked Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, but picked him off first base. Kershaw also finished 0-for-1 at the plate.

It's not as if the veteran needed a strong outing to finish Cactus League play, but he'll take it. The tall left-hander struggled with his command in his last outing, needing 96 pitches to get through five innings against the Indians on Thursday. He was charged with two runs on seven hits that day, with seven strikeouts and three walks.

"My last start wasn't great, kind of with everything, so [it's] just one more [outing] to make sure I knew what I was doing, and I felt a little better today," Kershaw said. "I had a better breaking ball today, the curveball was better. The fastball command was a little in and out, but I made some decent ones. Overall, it was a little bit better than the last start, so that's good."

Kershaw allowed five runs on 23 hits in 23 innings during six Cactus League starts this spring. He struck out 25 and walked eight. Monday will mark his sixth Opening Day start.

"It's a huge honor to be part of it, obviously," he said. "It's tough to balance the, 'It is just one game,' [against] the significance of getting to start it. It's a tough balance there, but I do enjoy getting to pitch it."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.