Aside from two pinch-hit appearances, Matt Kemp has not played in any of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ last five games. The final straw appears to have been Kemp’s error, his fourth of the season and second-highest among all center fielders, in the Dodgers’ 5-3 loss to the New York Mets on May 22.
Andre Ethier has since replaced Kemp in center field and manager Don Mattingly has discussed a plan to use Kemp in left field. The intention to use Kemp in left is a stark change from Mattingly’s comments that he, along with Yasiel Puig, had cemented themselves at their respective positions.
While he considers himself a center fielder, Kemp has expressed his desire to play at any position. Kemp’s agent and former Dodger, Dave Stewart, reportedly told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti informed him his client would see time in both center and left field.
That has yet to be the case however, which doesn’t bode well with Stewart, who believes Kemp is capable of playing every day:
I’m not in a position to make out the lineup,” Stewart said. “In my opinion, he’s capable of playing every day, no doubt about that.”
Stewart also discussed Kemp’s dedication to the Dodgers:
He gave his body up for the organization,” Stewart said. “He didn’t ask to be in this situation in the first place.”
Kemp put together an MVP-caliber season in 2011 and has since seen his career derailed by one injury after another. Still recovering from off-season ankle surgery, Kemp began the 2014 season on the disabled list and was activated for the home opener on April 4.
When healthy, Kemp is capable of being among the center field’s elite. While the 29-year-old maintains he’s at full health, the Dodgers don’t appear quite as convinced — citing a lack of explosion in his ability to get to balls hit into the outfield.
Carl Crawford sprained his ankle in the Dodgers’ win over the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday night and is bound for the disabled list. Though it was Scott Van Slyke who replaced him, Kemp could be the beneficiary from the unfortunate injury.
If a return to the lineup correlates with playing in left field, it may require an adjustment for Kemp, who hasn’t played the position since 2006, when started eight games in left.
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