With 29 games left in the Dodgers season, outfielder Matt Kemp began his rehab assignment last night with Class A Rancho Cucamonga as he looks to be fully recovered from a sprained ankle.
Kemp was the DH last night and hit second in the lineup and while he didn’t have a hit in five at-bats, he ran down the first base line well and hit a couple balls right on the nose.
Talking to Austin Laymance of Dodgers.com, Kemp talked about how he felt after his first game action since mid-July:
I got more comfortable as the game went on, Kemp said. I knew I wasn’t going to come out feeling super good. But I hit some balls hard and that’s all you can ask for. It felt good to be out there and hear the fans, there were a lot of Dodgers fans out here. It’s good to get back out there and be playing baseball again.
Kemp is slated to play center field tonight and if all goes well, he should be activated by the end of the weekend once the Dodgers can expand the roster to 40 men.
While 2013 has been a tough year for him, Kemp sounds like he’s in good spirits even though he hasn’t had the impact many would’ve thought. The Dodgers have a 9.5 game lead and seeing as Kemp has been on the DL with significant injuries this season, it’d be wise to ease him back into the lineup.
Once he returns from his injury, Don Mattingly will have to make the difficult decision of choosing to sit either Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford or Yasiel Puig.
If Kemp comes back and gives the Dodgers another power bat in the middle of the lineup, an already stacked team will become that much tougher to pitch against.