(Reuters) - Los Angeles Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw is not afraid of monsters, not even the big green one he will confront on Tuesday when he takes the mound against the Boston Red Sox in Game One of the World Series at Fenway Park.
Major League Baseball’s oldest ballpark, iconic Fenway has many quirky characteristics but its signature feature is the Green Monster, an ominous 37.2 feet (11.3m) high left field wall that stands only 310 feet from home plate.
With walls at most other ballparks usually more than 400 feet away, the Green Monster has haunted pitchers and tortured outfielders for the last century.
The sight of balls sailing over the wall onto Lansdowne street or ricocheting off its green face in every direction is the stuff of pitching nightmares but Kershaw will not be losing any sleep as he prepares to confront it for the first time.
“I don’t really think about that stuff,” shrugged Kershaw, during Monday’s World Series media day.
“I appreciate the history and everything that goes along with Fenway Park but I came here, I don’t know how long ago, 2000 something and got to at least see it, got to appreciate the stadium.
“I don’t think you can let the ballparks dictate how you pitch.
“You have to go with your game plan regardless of where you’re pitching.”
Despite being two of baseball’s most storied franchises the Dodgers and Red Sox have little combined history.
Game One will mark the first time since 1916 the teams have met in a World Series when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn and known as the Robins.
Since interleague play began in 1997 they have met just 15 times and last clashed in 2016.
The Dodgers have not paid a visit to Fenway since 2010, providing the Red Sox with a distinct home field advantage.
The opener will be an intriguing duel of left-handed aces with the Red Sox sending seven-time all-star Chris Sale to battle three-time Cy Young winner Kershaw.
Having spent seven seasons with the Chicago White Sox before moving to Boston in 2016, Sale has found a comfort level at Fenway that he never had as a visiting pitcher.
“This ballpark definitely brings its challenges in terms of it’s different,” said Sale. “It’s not your standard wall out in center field, just kind of a half oval.
“We have nooks and crannies and some sharp edges and some different things going on out there.
“I could definitely see how this could raise some challenges for a team that doesn’t play here a lot.
“It’s not an easy place to play as a visitor.
“I’ll always enjoyed playing here and obviously it’s an iconic park. But it’s a lot more fun pitching as a home pitcher.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford