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Kershaw awarded third straight Opening Day start

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- To no one's surprise, Clayton Kershaw was named the Dodgers' Opening Day starting pitcher by manager Don Mattingly on Saturday. Kershaw also will pitch the Dodgers' Cactus League opener against the White Sox on Saturday, Feb. 23.

Kershaw will be the first Dodgers pitcher to make three consecutive Opening Day starts since Derek Lowe from 2005-07. The last Dodger to start four consecutive Opening Days was Ramon Martinez from 1995-98. Don Sutton has the club record with seven (1972-78).

"It's a huge honor and I'm excited to do it," Kershaw said. "Opening Day is an awesome atmosphere. I know there is added excitement. I expect the fans to be as awesome as always. And the Giants having won the World Series and that great rivalry, so there will be added stuff with that."

Kershaw also cautioned not to blow out of proportion his selection because "after that, it's just every five days."

Kershaw, who turns 25 in March, is coming off a 14-9 season in which he led the National League in ERA (2.53) for a second consecutive season. He finished second in strikeouts, innings pitched, opponents' batting average and quality starts and led the NL in WHIP and pickoffs.

This year's Opening Day will be April 1 at home against the Giants. Although he made the Opening Day start last year in San Diego, Kershaw lasted only three innings before leaving with flu-like symptoms. In 2011, he pitched seven scoreless innings against the Giants in a 1-0 win at home.

He said preparations this Spring are nothing out of the ordinary for him.

"Just the normal progress," he said. "I don't think there's anything added, just getting ready for the season. I come to Spring Training, whether I'm on the team or not, as if I'm trying to earn a job. I compete, fight, have a lot of fun. I don't treat the game differently."

Mattingly said it's nice not to have any drama when it comes to picking an Opening Day starter.

"It's nice to have guys that are consistent," he said. "You like guys that are low maintenance. He's been relatively healthy, except for the hip last year [missing a start], and he's consistent in his outings. You know what you can count on and what to expect. That is nice."

Mattingly did not name the rest of the Dodgers' rotation and won't for a while, as the club has seven other starting pitchers competing for four spots. Zack Greinke and Korean lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu are locked in after the club committed $200 million to sign them. Chad Billingsley will join them if his elbow his healthy and, so far, it has been. Josh Beckett also figures in the rotation.

That leaves Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly trying to fight their way back in, with Lilly coming off shoulder surgery.

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

{"event":["opening_day" ,"spring_training" ] }
{"event":["opening_day" ,"spring_training" ] }
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