While Team USA will have plenty of players with ties to the Dodgers Organization, Matt Kemp may be the biggest name on a roster that hopes to qualify for the 2021 Summer Olympics in Japan.
Kemp, who was drafted by Los Angeles in the 6th round of the 2003 MLB Draft, has returned to the exact spot where he started his professional baseball career to prepare for the next chapter of his career.
Yes, Matt has returned to Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida.
Before packing up and moving to Camelback Ranch in Arizona, the Dodgers’ spring training home was in Vero Beach, Florida from 1948 to 2008. The team’s old stomping grounds have since been transformed into a sports complex for athletes of all levels.
Now, during an interview on High Heat with Alanna Rizzo, Kemp mentioned how much it has changed since he first arrived there.
“This is amazing man, this is where it all started at the young age of 18-years old, getting drafted by the Dodgers in ’03. I can’t even remember that was that long ago. Yeah a lot has changed here. They got better fences and the facilities are way nicer now. They did a lot fo good things for the kids out here in Vero Beach at Jackie Robinson Complex.”
The 36-year old is currently a free agent after spending the 2020 season with the Colorado Rockies, but that hasn’t stopped him from sticking around the game. When asked about what enticed him to join Team USA as it seeks to seize a chance to go to the Olympics, Kemp mentioned that it was an opportunity he wanted to take advantage of, especially since he was never able to play in a World Baseball Classic.
“I played in a World Series, never played in the Olympics, I think that would be something great to accomplish and to try win the U.S. a gold medal.”
The team will first have to come out on top during an 8-team qualifier in Florida that starts on May 31st. Half of the team is made up of young minor leaguers, while the other half is made up of aging veterans in the twilight of their careers. However, Kemp spoke about how it’s a chance to prove he can still be a valuable player. There’s no better way to rediscover his former self than to go back to where everything began.
Hopefully, Matt still has enough of what made him a dynamic player to help lead the U.S. to glory.