Heading into the 2014 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers are likely to be without Matt Kemp for at least the two Opening Series games against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 29-year-old outfielder underwent off-season shoulder and ankle surgeries, but while he’s been able to hit in the cages, he hasn’t been able to run on his surgically repaired ankle.
Thankfully, the Dodgers have four starting outfielders for three spots so there isn’t a huge sense of urgency to rush him back. Today, the team held their first organized workout session and Kemp spoke to Mark Saxson of ESPNLA.com about the complicated outfield situation:
I’m not a fourth outfielder. We can cut that off right there, Kemp said. I won’t accept that role. I can’t accept that role.
When healthy, Kemp has proven to be one of the best players in baseball and after an MVP-like season in 2011, he hasn’t been able to stay on the field. In just 73 games last season, Kemp hit .270 with six home runs and 33 RBI as he dealt with shoulder, hamstring and ankle injuries that saw his season end on the last day of the regular season.
With the ascension of Yasiel Puig to the big league level, the Dodgers have had a crowded, yet injured outfield. Carl Crawford dealt with back and hamstring issues while Andre Ethier saw a leg injury limit him in the postseason. Manager Don Mattingly will have a tough choice to make when all four outfielders are healthy, but that likely won’t be the case for at least a month.
Kemp was also the subject of several trade rumors this off-season with his agent going as far as flying down to the winter meetings because he believed a deal could get done. Heading into the 2014 season, the Dodgers have a lot of questions to answer in the outfield, but it’s clear Kemp won’t accept a backup role.
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