GLENDALE, Ariz. – The breeze of October warmed with heat and 103 degrees of playtime heat, when Clayton Karsha was injured and fired a hammer, the first pitch to George Springer, Houston, to begin game 1. General Chat Chat Lounge Now the most controversial 2017 World Series.
Heading up to the Dodger Stadium playground, on an upper deck set of left-field foul pools, an important piece of Los Angeles’s future shines through with its younger sister, a ticket in hand, in the atmosphere.
Walker Bohler was only 22, with sky-high expectations and ambitions. He was a September call-up, asked to stick around the Dodgers Spring Complex in Arizona in the wake of a post-season injury. Now, the man whom the Dodgers have internally considered to be the next generation of anchor, is out of duty. He can only enjoy seeing Krisha, the future Hall of Famer, from whom, if things go as planned, the torch will one day pass from her.
That day, symbolically at least, will arrive on Friday when the Dodgers open their season in Denver. It is Buehler who will make the start of the first day of his career. It is Kershaw, who has nine of them, including every opener when he is recovering until 2011, which will be a spectacle.
“Watching his maturation process has been incredibly fun and rewarding,” said Andrew Friedman, Boehler, president of the Dodgers for Baseball Operations. “It’s just that you make it in the most ideal conditions. And then to watch it as it is played, obviously there are some really good veteran pitchers around him to help speed it up, but he also says a ton about it.
Now 27 and coming off a career year in which his 25 starts with two or fewer runs allowed to lead the Majors, Boehler arrived in Los Angeles with a racial arm and a blue blood ruse. He immediately captivated his Dodger teammates with sarcastic chips and bold announcements, and then won them over with his competitive enthusiasm.
“He does not suffer from anyone or anything,” said Alex Wood, a starter for the San Francisco Giants who became close friends with Bohler during his time in Los Angeles.
Ever since Boehler arrived in the majors to stay in 2018, Karsha has worked hard for the side of the man who took over from that upper deck seat in 2017. In his own way, each of these men has danced to greatness with every tick-in of his Dodgers jersey. More often than not, both Buehler and Kershaw have landed.
MLB Lockout Comes Out
“He’s always been very kind to me and given me a lot of time that he probably didn’t need, especially those first two years,” Bohler said of Karissa during an interview outside the team’s Spring Clubhouse last week. General Chat Chat Lounge
“Buetane” was dubbed by his Vanderbilt teammates, a moniker who tied his gloves on, describing his role in relations with Boehler Kershaw as “perhaps the most annoying little brother of anything.”
He added: “Any discussions with her for a long time were good to me. Hopefully, I’ve gotten a little ahead of them. But it’s still Clayton Kershaw, and it’s still a moving statue, if you like, so it’s really cool to know him.
Kershaw, 34, checks in on “the annoying little brother” and quickly dismisses them. Rather, the paranormal left-hander describes their relationships as “friends.” Kershaw, who was limited to 22 starts last season and was removed with a left-arm and clone strain during the post-season, is anxious to focus on Opening Day and refuses any help attributed to him in Baylor’s development. Is quick for
“Everyone expects this because when I was here when Walker was coming in I would mentor him,” said Krisha. “I didn’t want to do it, and he didn’t want me to do it, and so I didn’t.”
He added: “I learn from him probably as much or more as he learns from me. He knows all the new age technology stuff and I really don’t know. It’s really good to talk to him about it. Our personality is very different. But the friendship that has been established over the past few years is great.
The Dodgers have appreciated relations, and the results, both on and off the field.
“Even when Walker was a teenager, Clayton Kershaw, a cookie ball player, was always interesting and liked Walker,” said manager Dave Roberts. “So when the future Hall of Famer is heated up and gives a young ball player the benefit of the doubt, it shows that he sees something special in the player and in person.”
Friedman said: “It’s really fun to see the dynamic between them.
The boiler was eliminated as well, as is another example of Kirsch’s team baseball disparity. The Dodgers, along with every other team, love Buehler to the 2015 Amateur Draft. But Bohler suffered a clone injury in his final college season that eventually led to Tommy John’s surgery. The Dodgers, with the 24th overall pick, thought they could steal a deal and sweep it until the 23rd pick from the middle of the first round, allowing Boehler to go for them.
“Obviously, that wasn’t the way he essentially made it, but I hope that when he looks back on his career, he looks at it as we see it,” Friedman said. General Chat Chat Lounge
Bohler made career-best offers last year in ERA (2.47), ODI (16), innings pitched (207%) and starts (33). The most meaningful, he said, is 200 innings. It goes back to his childhood following the Cincinnati Reds, and the restoration of his Tommy John with Bronson Arroyo, who was then pitching for the Reds. Arroyo threw 200 or more innings in his new seasons between 2005 and 2013 – and 199 in the ninth.
“A lot of people don’t think that Bronson Irving was the person you want to see, but I’ve always thought it was a really, really good thing,” said Bohler, a Lexington, Ky. Resident. “And that 200-inning mark, fewer and fewer people getting there, makes it a little bit more special.”
This workload – and Bohler’s praise of it – is perhaps the most striking example of his maturity and growth in a true workforce.
“When you were young, you wanted to create value for yourself,” he said. “You really want to, really well and remove them all. Now, I’m more proud of the valuable things I do for my team. Being healthy and being consistent is more my focus.
Off the field, Bohler has also worked to improve his diet. He and his wife cut gluten for a time last year, and he said he intends to do so again this year. Atlanta shortstop Dansby Swanson, who played with Bohler in Vanderbilt, remembers him being the king of breakfast. And Colorado pitcher Ben Bowen tells a striking story of the time when Vanderbilt was playing in the Dominican Republic, when Bohler gave Gold Bed Creekers an open hug on his bed and didn’t realize it when he returned to the room. Second, the ketones are mounted on the bag. General Chat Chat Lounge He grabbed the hook, opened his mouth and threw it before it looked like he was drinking goldfish and ketones.
“True story. It was a tough one,” Bohler said, smiling and admitting, “I still have some drawbacks in gummy beer drawers.”
But he does have a growing toolbox. He impressed Krisha last year by adding a changeup and a cutter. Wood talks about his “ability to be creative” in the same way a jazz musician does. Bohler is known for throwing a rival after impressing immediately after adding a pitch to his repertoire.
“There aren’t a lot of people out there who can learn different pitches – it’s faster,” Kirsch said. “It could be a weapon.”
Already a two-time All-Star, Bohler finished fourth in the NL Cy Young Beltting last year. He recorded just 13 losses (40-13), with more than 103 career appearances, including 94 starts.
“There is something to take the ball and want to be responsible for,” Bohler said. “It’s a really exciting thing for me.”
He allowed, in drawing the opening day assignment, “you have to be humble and slightly dominant,” which marks the first curveball of his season.
Seriously? The proud hawker, humble?
“I think I’ve probably improved a little over the last few years, but it still comes out all the time,” Bohler said.
His legendary rotation-fellow agrees.
“Oh no, he’s an idiot,” Krisha said. “Sure. It works. It’s the other way around, too. When he’s not feeling well, or when he’s not there where he thinks he should be, he does a lot of work to make sure. Because he is good.
Friedman said: “He is pitching in a big market, with a strong fan base, with hopes of winning the World Series every year. Some people will be embarrassed at the beginning of their career, or find it intimidating. He is hooked on it and has fun and has really grown, I think, partly because of it.