As the Los Angeles Dodgers hit the home stretch of their compressed Spring Training schedule, center fielder Matt Kemp took a significant step forward on Wednesday in his recovery from off-season ankle surgery. Kemp has generated momentum as of late, with the last update having him hitting and running to first base without any issues during a minor league game one day after manager Don Mattingly said Kemp was close to returning.
Three days after hitting and running to first base in a minor league game, Kemp was patrolling center field during an intrasquad game, according to the Dodgers’ Twitter account:
Matt Kemp is currently playing center field in the #Dodgers minor league intrasquad game. — his first game action in the field in 2014.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 12, 2014
According to Pedro Moura of the OC Register, being back in center field was a bit of a foreign feeling for Kemp, but he did feel more comfortable at the plate after going 0-for-7 in his previous minor league appearance:
Matt Kemp told me he felt “a little weird, still,” playing the field. “But I actually felt really good at the plate,” he said.
— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) March 12, 2014
Manager Don Mattingly has already ruled Kemp out for the Opening Series, which begins on March 22, but a debut at Dodger Stadium in the series against the San Francisco Giants, which begins on April 5, doesn’t appear to be completely out of the question.
Prior to becoming known as injury-prone, Kemp played in 162 and 161 games in 2010 and 2011, respectively. He hit a career-high .324 and had 39 home runs and 40 stolen bases in 2011, finishing second in NL MVP voting. Potentially plugging Kemp back in the lineup during the early stages of the season would be a tremendous addition for the Dodgers. When healthy, Kemp has proven to be an MVP candidate capable of putting a team on his back.
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