For the fourth straight game, the Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly chose to hold center fielder Matt Kemp out of the lineup. What has become an ongoing issue for the Dodgers, given that they have five outfielders competing for three spots, Mattingly has had to manage egos and try to please everyone, which is in no way possible.
According to Michael Martinez of Fox Sports West, Mattingly believes the former All-Star is not fully recovered from his left ankle surgery in October:
“We still go back to him being 100 percent,” manager Don Mattingly said. “We don’t feel like he’s moving like he did a couple of years ago. We still feel like maybe physically he’s back because he’s not on the medical report, but you see his steps sometimes where he doesn’t really want to stop hard and maybe it’s just getting over that, still a little fear of the ankle and where it’s at.”
Before Kemp’s two most recent absences from the Dodgers’ lineup, the team began discussions about possibly moving Kemp to left field in order to see some more playing time. Suffice to say, Kemp doesn’t seem thrilled with the move. When a reporter asked when the last time he played left field, Kemp offered a curt response:
“2006. Google it. A long time ago.”
It’s clear the Dodgers believe Kemp is still battling himself after surgery on his left ankle last October. Kemp does not have either the quick acceleration or the stopping ability he once possessed that gave him the ability to play center field at the high level that he did two years ago. Therefore, working out in left may be his best route back into the starting lineup and Mattingly’s good graces.
Kemp still remains set on playing anywhere as long as he is able to help contribute to the team and help produce wins:
“It’s an outfield spot,” he said. “Like I said, as long as I’m out there playing, it doesn’t matter. I just want to play.”
Chances are this will not be the last time we hear about a Dodger outfielder being upset with playing time. But its noteworthy that the one time staple of the Dodgers’ outfield has now voiced his opinion about the current outfield situation.
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