Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Kemp Connects Four

Running with a games theme today on SoSG. But there's nothing playful about Matt Kemp and his response to being out of the starting lineup for four straight games:

Manager Don Mattingly, since first coming out and acknowledging Kemp’s defensive play in center field was no longer acceptable, sat Kemp for the fourth consecutive game Monday.

He became the first of the Dodgers' Big Four outfielders -- Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Kemp -- to sit four consecutive games this season. And this one came against Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto, against whom he is six for 12 with two home runs.

Mattingly has said he wants Kemp to start practicing in left field and he said Monday that Ethier was now his main center fielder.

“I’m just here to play baseball, man,” Kemp said. “As long as I’m in the lineup, it doesn’t matter.” [...]

Kemp is proud and said he still considers himself a center fielder, so the success in this transition – temporary or not – could well hinge on how he reacts to the change. Mattingly said he expects him to embrace it.

“I hope so,” Mattingly said. “I expect him to.”

Kemp had surgery on his left ankle in the off-season and Mattingly said he doesn’t currently have the same burst he had a couple years ago. Kemp maintains the ankle is fine.

“I’m healthy, man,” Kemp said. “I feel good. Like I said, I just want to play.”

It's tough to know what's going on here, what with the lingering defensive concerns (speed and routes to the ball) that seem to be swirling over Kemp. I credit Kemp for keeping positive and on the company line, however. Let's hope his maturity reflects well on Kemp as a growing individual, who definitely deserves a chance to show his stuff again in center field.