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Kershaw & Ohtani starriest All-Stars in Hollywood

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Shohei Ohtani and Clayton Kershaw are two-way praisers.

Six miles from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles’ biggest baseball star will return to Dodger Stadium for the first time in 42 years with the All-Star Game on Tuesday night.

Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner for the Dodgers, made his first All-Star start in the National League. The Angels’ Ohtani will be the American League’s designated hitter for the second year in a row, following last year’s start on the mound in Denver and the No. 1 spot.

Otani, the Babe Ruth of the 21st century, went 0 for 8 in his career as a hitter against Kershaw with 4 strikeouts, 3 outs and double grounder. Against two other guys he’s faced on multiple occasions: Wade LeBron (0-for-11) and Justus Sheffield (0-for-13), he took no hits.

“One of the things that makes him great is the timing of his ability to get out of the batter, and his ability to command,” Otani said through interpreter Ippei Suwon on Monday.

Sitting in the sun in the center arena of Dodger Stadium, not far from the statue of Dodgers great Sandy Coufax, Otani was surprised by the 34-year-old southpaw who was six years his senior.

“Every time he throws — he rarely misses his spot, rarely leaves the ball in the middle of the plate,” Otani said. “Every shot he made was very quality.”

Kershaw blushed as he talked about his success with Ohtani – blushing, or the 85-degree sun, it’s hard to say which.

On Friday night in Anaheim, Kershaw had a perfect eighth inning and held Queen Ohtani in three at-bats, knocking him out twice.

“I don’t know how I got him out,” Kershaw said. “I think I’ll try to get him out tomorrow and see what happens.”

Shane McClanahan becomes the second pitcher for Tampa Bay to start an All-Star Game after David Price in Anaheim in 2010. A first-time All-Star, the 25-year-old southpaw is 10-3 with a major league-leading 1.71 ERA and 147 strikeouts in 110 2/3 innings.

“Honestly, I’ve never seen him pitch and we haven’t played against him this year, but everyone I’ve talked to tells me he’s a nuisance,” Houston’s AL manager Dusty Baker said.

A nine-time All-Star, the 34-year-old Kershaw is 7-2 with a 2.14 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings. Two years ago, he helped Los Angeles win its first World Series title since 1988.

“His reputation, what he means to the game of baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers, I think he’s perfect to start this game for us in the National League,” Atlanta’s NL manager Brian Sniteke said.

Ohtani, two-time All-Star and reigning AL MVP, is a baseball unicorn: He’s 0.258 with 19 homers, 56 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases, while going 9-4 with a 2.38 ERA as a right-hander And 123 strikeouts and 22 walks in 87 innings.

“It’s really great for the game of baseball. It’s unbelievable to have someone like that be able to do both in the way he does,” Kershaw said. “As a gaming fan, it’s also fun to watch.”

Ohtani decided not to play both ways in this year’s All-Star Game.

“I’m going to pitch in my first game after the All-Star break,” Ohtani said, looking ahead to Friday’s game in Atlanta. “It’s only going to give me two days. Obviously, I value this season more than the All-Star Game.”

Kershaw passed Don Sutton in April as the team’s career strikeout leader, and he will become the third runner-up in Cincinnati’s Zack Greinke in 2015 and Cleveland’s Hyun Jin Ryu in 2019. The Dodgers pitcher who has started in the last seven All-Star games. He will become the 13th pitcher to start at hometown, the first since former teammate Max Scherzer in Washington in 2018.

Kershaw thought of daughters Cali and sons Chance, Charlie and Cooper.

“Everything about this game becomes clearer with age, how special it is,” Kershaw said. “I just wanted to hold on a little longer for them to see. I think my daughter is 7, my oldest son is 5, and I have a 2 and 7 month old that may not remember. But this 7 and 5 Year-olds, it’s fun to see it through their eyes, and hopefully I can get them here to watch the Home Run Derby and see it. I think they’re starting to learn more about baseball.”

In the San Fernando Valley, Charlie played youth ball at Lake Toluca with Charlie Freeman, son of Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman. Both are 5.

“That was fun. I think in about two months they’ll start all over again—happy, kids playing baseball, there’s nothing like that,” Freeman said. “Unfortunately, we can’t be there every game and every training session, so our other coaches do their jobs.”

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