As expected, hours prior to playing their home opener against the San Francisco Giants, the Los Angeles Dodgers activated Matt Kemp from the disabled list. Kemp spent the entire spring recovering from ankle surgery and his return momentarily spells the end for one of the extra outfielders on the team.
In order to make room for Kemp on the roster, the Dodgers announced via their Twitter account outfielder Mike Baxter was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque:
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 4, 2014
The Dodgers signed Baxter to a one-year deal in the off-season after they claimed him off waivers from the New York Mets. Baxter’s signing served as an insurance policy in the event their outfield would become ravished by injury, as it was in 2013. Also contributing to Baxter’s signing was the uncertainty at the time surrounding Kemp’s return date.
A career .225 hitter, Baxter spent the previous three seasons with the New York Mets. 2013 was a down season for Baxter, who played a career-high 89 games in 2012, hitting .263 with 17 RBIs. Baxter hit .268 in 41 spring training at-bats with the Dodgers and went hitless in seven regular season at-bats over four games, including one start. The left-handed hitting outfielder’s best game was a 2-for-2 effort with two RBIs against the Texas Rangers.
Though the outfield appears to be intact, health can quickly go by the wayside as has been seen with the pitching staff. In joining the Isotopes, Baxter will have the opportunity to remain sharp in the event his services become immediately needed. Should the group of Dodger outfielders remain healthy, which includes Scott Van Slyke on the bench, Baxter’s opportunity at the big league level may not come until the rosters are expanded to 40.
ICYMI: Matt Kemp Is Set To Return For The Home Opener