It’s been a long journey for Los Angeles Dodgers’ outfielder Matt Kemp since he was named the runner-up in the 2011 National League MVP race after hitting 39 home runs and stealing 40 bases.
Since then, he has signed an eight-year, $160 million contract extension, suffered through two injury-plauged seasons and watched his team advance to the NLCS last season. Tomorrow, Kemp is expected to return to the field for the Dodgers at their home opener against the San Francisco Giants.
According to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times, the 29-year-old can barely contain his excitement for the game:
Opening day at Dodger Stadium is always a sight to see, Kemp said. It’s always sold out, there’s always some type of excitement, 56,000 screaming Dodger fans, man. What a better way to come back than to come back for the home opener?
The game tomorrow will be the Dodgers’ sixth game of the season after two in Australia against the Arizona Diamondbacks and three in San Diego against the Padres. Hyun-Jin Ryu will take the mound for the team and Kemp will likely assume his role in center field. Forced to spectator duty for much of last season, the former All-Star is ready to get back to doing what he does via Hernandez:
To be honest with you, it’s not fun sitting here watching these guys play, he said. I love these guys, but I’d rather be out there playing with them. I’m tired of being a cheerleader. I want to help these guys win some games.
It is still unknown what will happen with Kemp back in the lineup, as the Dodgers have three other capable outfielders, but Kemp has said that he will not be a fourth outfielder. Andre Ethier could become the odd man out, although Carl Crawford could also see his playing time diminish.
Regardless of what happens, the Dodgers hope they will get the Kemp from the past to put them over the top in their quest for a World Series title.
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