Through a series of significant team changes in recent years, one constant remains unwavering for the Dodgers: the enduring camaraderie shared between Clayton Kershaw and Austin Barnes.
Since 2015, these two have functioned as battery mates, forging a connection that transcends their roles on the field. This bond has been particularly apparent in the past few seasons, during which Kershaw has exclusively pitched to Barnes. The cumulative effect of numerous joint starts has solidified their relationship, creating an unbreakable link that even their longest-tenured teammates admire.
“One of his skills is, he can call people out, but people think it’s funny,” Kershaw explained. “When other people do that, they take offense. But Barnsey has a really good feel for making fun of guys, or giving people a hard time, and them taking it well. It’s a skill. It’s a personality trait.”
As the team’s seasoned veterans, Kershaw and Barnes possess an intimate understanding of each other’s personalities. This shared insight has become a cornerstone of their partnership, nurturing a sense of unity that resonates within the Dodgers’ clubhouse.
In the ongoing 2023 season, Barnes has encountered challenges in his performance. Yet, Kershaw sheds light on Barnes’ critical role in fostering a sense of kinship among the Dodgers. The team’s clubhouse has transformed into a brotherhood, largely thanks to Barnes’ contributions. This shift hasn’t gone unnoticed, with star player Mookie Betts acknowledging that this year’s team atmosphere rivals his experiences only with the victorious 2018 Red Sox, who clinched the World Series title.
However, Barnes’ influence extends beyond the clubhouse dynamics. Amidst his personal struggles on the field, he has maintained a batting average of .147 across 129 at-bats this season. Encouragingly, recent games indicate a potential turnaround, as Barnes secured hits in the last three matches and delivered a game-winning home run against the Marlins on a Friday night.
While his offensive performance has faced challenges, Barnes’ role as a catcher has significantly impacted the Dodgers’ pitching performance. He has been the primary catcher for one of the team’s top pitchers, Clayton Kershaw, throughout the year. Kershaw boasts an impressive 2.48 ERA in 18 starts this season and has earned his 10th All-Star selection.
Amidst Barnes’ struggles and successes, the steadfast bond between Kershaw and Barnes stands as a symbol of unity within the Dodgers. As the team looks ahead to a potentially deep postseason run, the enduring partnership between these two players remains a source of strength both on and off the field.
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