In three years Matt Kemp has gone from runner up in the NL MVP race to a displaced center fielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Kemp was benched for five games and moved to left field, where he’s remained since.
Like many of the Dodgers, Kemp has struggled to find any sort of consistency this season. He began the season on the disabled list and upon returning, managed to play regularly as manager Don Mattingly shuffled his left fielders and providing Kemp an occasional day off.
Kemp’s tenure in left field got off to a slow start as he looked slow defensively and was mired in a 4-for-32 slump. As the Dodgers hit the road, Kemp appeared to find his swing in Colorado, going 5-for-9 with two triples, three RBIs and three walks.
However as the Dodgers traveled to Cincinnati, Kemp regressed and went 2-for-11 over the four-game set with five strikeouts, with four coming in one game. Despite the drop off, Mattingly is confident Kemp can turn his fortunes around, via Manny Randhawa of MLB.com:
I think Matt is better than .250,” Mattingly said. “I think he’s gonna hit. I just know the ability’s there. I know it’s there. It’s been there before, it’s there again. He’s not at an age where you say, ‘It’s not there anymore.’ There’s a possibility that age has basically caught up, but he’s still pretty much in a time where body-wise, reaction-wise, he’s still young and he’s done it before. He can do it again.
With Carl Crawford out due to a sprained ankle, Kemp has started in the Dodgers last 15 games. Despite still being on the DL, Crawford has already expressed frustration over the uncertainty surrounding his role once he returns.
Mattingly juggled the injury-plagued outfield well enough last season and appears to have another difficult situation on his hands this year.
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