The notion that the Los Angeles Dodgers must trade one of their four outfielders because there isn’t enough playing time to go around may be a misguided perception. It was believed the Dodgers would have the same issue last season when Yasiel Puig was added to the major league roster, but injuries prevented overcrowding.
Still unable to start running as he recovers from off-season ankle surgery, Matt Kemp recently made headlines when he proclaimed he isn’t and wouldn’t be the team’s fourth outfielder. With the 2014 Opening Series in Australia one month away, Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com reports Don Mattingly doesn’t expect Kemp to be available by then:
Mattingly confirmed he's not hopeful of having Matt Kemp for Australia. No surprise since Kemp still hasn't run.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) February 21, 2014
When healthy, Kemp’s assertion that he’s an everyday outfielder is correct. However, health has been an issue as Kemp managed to play in just 73 games in 2013 due to shoulder, hamstring and ankle injuries. Kemp was held out of the Dodgers’ final two regular season games last year with an eye on getting healthy for the playoffs, but the Dodgers would then announce he wouldn’t be available because of his fragile ankle.
Kemp’s best season in recent memory came in 2011, when he was locked in a battle with Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun for the NL MVP award. During that season, Kemp played in 161 games, hit .324 with 39 home runs and 115 RBI. He also set career-highs in on-base percentage (.399), slugging percentage (.586), OPS (.986) and WAR (7.8).
Before bottoming out in 2013, Kemp’s stats began to decline in 2012 as he dealt with a shoulder injury from crashing into the wall at Coors Field. After previously admitting to hurrying back from injury, it’s imperative for Kemp to continue with his rehab and step back on the field only once he feels completely healthy.
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