After a steady rehab process during Spring Training, Matt Kemp was activated from the disabled list in time for the Los Angeles Dodgers home opener.
Naturally rusty from missing plenty of time during the 2013, Kemp got off to a slow start that eventually cost him the starting job in center field.
Begrudgingly, Kemp was benched and moved to left field. The outfielder proclaimed himself a center fielder and expressed his desire to return to the position.
Manager Don Mattingly has indicated that opportunity won’t come with the Dodgers and according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the difference of opinion has caused a rift between Kemp and Mattingly:
Manager Don Mattingly and Kemp are at odds, sources say, in part because of Kemp’s publicly stated desire to return to center field. Informed recently by reporters that Kemp views himself as a center fielder, Mattingly said, “That’s fine. He can view himself however he wants. I’m playing him in left.”.
Mattingly recently referred to Joc Pederson as the best center fielder in the organization and it’s who he covets most, reports Rosenthal:
The Dodgers’ best defensive center fielder – and the one Mattingly wants most, according to sources – is Joc Pederson, a top prospect at Triple A.
Pederson was selected in the 11th round of the 2010 draft and is in his first season with the Albuquerque Isotopes. Through 86 games with the Isotopes, Pederson is hitting .317 and with a solo home run Wednesday, now has 20 home runs and 25 stolen bases.
Some of the rumored disconnect between Kemp and Mattingly may also be attributed to Kemp’s agent stating his client was open to being traded.
The 29-year-old later clarified on the report and said he’s happy with the Dodgers and simply wants to play every day.
Kemp’s immediate future may now include another position change — this time to right field. With Yasiel Puig recovering from a sore left hand, Kemp has started the last three games in right and played the position well.
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