SAN DIEGO — It started with a splash.
The Dodgers head to Arizona for a three-game series beginning Monday during which they might clinch their ninth division title in the past 10 seasons. The first title during this run was also clinched at Chase Field in 2013 — memorably so.
As the Dodgers celebrated that title in the visitors’ clubhouse, most of the team made their way out to the pool located beyond the right-field fence, adding belly flops and cannonballs to the usual beer and champagne of baseball celebrations.
The last man standing from that 2013 team said it was a spontaneous act of excitement — and defiance.
“Honestly, what I remember is that wasn’t even in our mindset,” Clayton Kershaw said Sunday. “We didn’t have any intentions of doing that — until they said, ‘Do not jump in our pool.’ We were like, ‘No, you can’t tell us what to do.’
“The message got down to us that they didn’t want us in their pool. If they hadn’t said anything, I don’t think we would have even thought of it. But they did and we did it. … If they hadn’t said anything, we probably wouldn’t have done it.”
The pool party wasn’t meant to be “disrespectful to anyone,” Kershaw said.
Nonetheless, four years later, the Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks in a best-of-five NL Division Series, winning the final game at Chase Field. To prevent any repeat violations of the Diamondbacks’ water feature, mounted police were stationed on the warning track in front of the pool.
“Alright, if this pool is really that special you guys can have it. Whatever,” Kershaw said of the Dodgers’ reaction to that. “We’ll just enjoy winning.”
The Dodgers have done a lot of winning since that 2013 division title. Eight more National League West titles have followed along with three NL pennants and the 2020 World Series championship. It might be enough to wonder if the reaction to another division title — just one preliminary step for a team with ‘World Series or bust’ expectations every year now — should be to act like you’ve been there before.
“I don’t buy that,” Kershaw said. ” ‘Act like you’ve been there before’ I just think is unfair. You’re not allowed to celebrate? It’s OK to enjoy team accomplishments — no matter how many times you’ve done it — because there are a lot of guys around this league who will never get to do that.
“It’s OK to enjoy it. It doesn’t take away from the bigger picture of what we’re trying to do. It’s OK, for one day, to celebrate as a team what we did for six months. I think you almost have to do it. Otherwise — what are we doing?”
So if the Dodgers clinch their next division title during the series in Arizona, will it be time to dive in again?
“Are we jumping in the pool? Probably not. If it’s going to cause that much trouble,” Kershaw said. “Unless they tell us not to do it.
“If we’re not going to jump in the pool, I don’t care. It’s just funny to me that they care so much.”
Reliever Blake Treinen downplayed the shoulder soreness that landed him on the injured list Saturday, characterizing it as “some soreness” that has cropped up occasionally as a result of the increased intensity during his recovery from the partial tear of his shoulder capsule that kept him out of action for nearly five months this season.
“Coming back to the big leagues, the whole idea was increasing the workload intensity, not that I was throwing any different than I was in the minors, but there’s just a level of intensity that apparently, I just can’t simulate,” he said Saturday. “I’ve just got some soreness in the muscle. Might as well take the time to calm it down. The capsule feels great. It’s just the muscles around it now that are active and working again in more of a heightened environment.”
Treinen said he felt good after playing catch Saturday but wouldn’t venture a guess as to when he might be throwing off a mound again.
“Getting a little far ahead there,” he said about that. “Let’s just focus on the fact that I’m healthier today, and then tomorrow we’ll see if I get better.”
LUX MAKES PROGRESS
Dodgers infielder Gavin Lux has increased his activity level over the past few days and is expected to take live at-bats against pitchers at Camelback Ranch either Tuesday or Wednesday while the team is in Arizona.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said “it looks very promising now” that Lux could return to action during the series next weekend in San Francisco. Lux has been out since Sept. 1 with soreness in his neck/upper back area.
Right-hander Tony Gonsolin threw a bullpen session Sunday as expected. Gonsolin is on the IL with a forearm strain.
Dodgers (LHP Tyler Anderson, 14-3, 2.73 ERA) at Diamondbacks (RHP Ryne Nelson, 1-0, 0.00 ERA), Monday, 6:40 p.m., SportsNet LA, MLB Network, 570 AM