It's a question Clayton Kershaw can't answer off the top of his head: What size bat does he use?
So the Dodgers' star pitcher reached above his locker, pulled out one of his black bats, and scanned the bottom of the handle. "Thirty-four inches, 311/2 ounces," he declared.
No surprise that Kershaw has to check — pitching is his priority, obviously — but one pleasant surprise for the Dodgers in their dreary season is that Kershaw and fellow starter Chad Billingsley have been among the better-hitting pitchers in the National League.
Their ability to do more with the bat than merely lay down sacrifice bunts not only has helped their cause as pitchers, it's fueled a friendly feud between the teammates. Kershaw is able to claim he has more hits — 13 to Billingsley's eight — while Billingsley can counter that he has one home run and three doubles.
Kershaw "has no extra-base hits whatsoever, all singles," said Billingsley, whose locker is next to Kershaw's.
"I know," Kershaw acknowledged meekly.
Most pitchers are considered automatic outs at the plate. Starting pitchers play only every four or five days, relievers often give way to pinch-hitters, and all of them concentrate more on their main job of getting other batters out than safely reaching base themselves.
Pitchers' lack of hitting prowess naturally is even more pronounced in the American League, which uses the designated hitter instead of having pitchers come to bat.
But in the National League, several pitchers are known for being dangerous hitters, and Kershaw and Billingsley are among them.
"You take it very seriously, because there are a couple games throughout the course of the season where you can win a game as far as getting a bunt down or the big hit," Billingsley said. "It's happened quite a few times."
Kershaw, Billingsley can be classy at the bat
Los Angeles Times | Aug 12