Matt Kemp has reportedly looked great in the batting cage this spring, but has yet to step foot on the field in a game.
Recovering from off-season ankle surgery, Kemp was recently cleared for more activities besides batting practice and is currently on step five of a seven step rehab program. The 29-year-old outfielder is expected to take his role as everyday center fielder once he’s back.
According to Kevin Baxter of the LA Times, manager Don Mattingly was optimistic after Kemp’s workout today:
Matt Kemp stepped up his off-field activities."He’s getting there," Mattingly said. "We’re confident he’s going in the right direction."
— Kevin Baxter (@kbaxter11) March 4, 2014
At the end of last year, the right-handed slugger underwent ankle and shoulder surgery. He’s recovered from the shoulder operation, but the ankle is still giving him problems. Kemp has missed 145 games the past two seasons with various injuries to his shoulder, ankle and hamstring. He’s already stated this spring that when he does return, he doesn’t expect to be a fourth outfielder with the Dodgers.
In his last full season, Kemp was the National League MVP runner-up and finished the year hitting .324 with 39 home runs, 126 RBI and 40 stolen bases. Currently, the Dodgers have Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig, but the quartet has only been healthy together for a handful of days. Kemp is expected to start the season on the disabled list, giving the team some time to figure out the situation.
The former All-Star was mentioned in trade rumors this off-season and the rumors will likely continue as he gets healthier. Kemp will be in the third year of an eight-year extension he signed back in 2011. Kemp and the Dodgers will be hoping for a complete recovery in order to add another dangerous bat to the lineup and boost the team’s chances of winning the franchise’s first World Series since 1988.
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