GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Since he finished in the top two in Cy Young balloting the past two seasons, Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw stood out as a pretty solid candidate to anchor Team USA's pitching staff in the World Baseball Classic.
But when organizers approached Kershaw about pitching for his country over the winter, he turned them down. He was also encouraged by the Dodgers to say no, he said.
"That's a huge honor to get to do that. I would have loved to," Kershaw said after his second start of the spring Thursday at Camelback Ranch. "I think I owed it to the team to show I was healthy in spring training, even though I had two starts at 100 percent last year. I wanted to come in and show I'm 100 percent great and I know they didn't feel great about me going.
"Hopefully, in four years I'll get the honor to do it again, but I'll definitely have regrets watching it."
Kershaw missed two starts with tightness in his hip near the end of last season, but has had no further problems with the injury since. He looked healthy striking out seven Angels in three innings Tuesday.
He allowed two earned runs on six hits, largely the result of a couple of hanging sliders, but his pitches were surprisingly sharp for early spring.
Team USA's pitching staff is thin on big names in this year's tournament, with R.A. Dickey and Gio Gonzalez the best-known pitchers on the staff. Other national teams, such as those of the Dominican Republic and Venezuela have tended to get higher participation rates from their players.
No Dodgers will play for Team USA. Players on WBC rosters leave their professional teams' camps on Sunday.