LOS ANGELES -- It should have been a time for celebration, the Los Angeles Dodgers having just polished off a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies with a convincing, 11-5 pounding before a Mother's Day crowd of 49,124 on Sunday at Dodger Stadium. Instead, the front office, the coaching staff, the rest of the team and pretty much the entire fan base was left to hold its collective breath and cross its collective fingers in anticipation of an MRI exam that will take place on Monday morning.
The unfortunate and admittedly claustrophobic chap who will be going into that cramped little tube is Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, arguably the team's most important player, and while the fate of the season doesn't necessarily rest on the result, the fate of the next couple of weeks very well might.
It has now been revealed that Kemp's left hamstring, the one that caused him to miss most of a game on May 6 and noticeably hobbled him on Monday night, has been less-noticeably hobbling him ever since and may well be the reason the once-unstoppable Kemp suddenly finds himself hitless in his past 14 at-bats. It flared up so badly on Sunday that Kemp had to leave the game after grounding out in the third inning.
What happens now won't be clear until after the MRI. But it was notable that when manager Don Mattingly was asked after the game whether it might be a good idea just to put the irreplaceable Kemp onto the 15-day disabled list to let the hammy heal completely, Mattingly might not have said yes, but he definitely didn't say no.
``I'm not afraid to do it if that is what we have to do,'' Mattingly said. ``I will let the medical people tell us what they think. They know a lot more about it than me. We will talk about it. We'll talk to (general manager) Ned (Colletti) about it. Everybody will be involved in a decision like this.''
Asked the same question, Kemp absolutely, positively did say no.
``I'm definitely not going on the DL,'' he said. ``That isn't going to happen. The team needs me. I don't think this is a 15-day thing. I think it's a one-, two- or three-day thing. I won't need to go on the DL for it.''
Was Kemp just whistling past the graveyard? Or does he know something the medical staff doesn't? He certainly knows his own body better than anybody else, which is why, as angry as he was about coming out of the game -- he fired his glove into the dugout before leaving the field, then fired his cap against the wall when he got to the bottom of the steps -- he still didn't lie when Mattingly told him he couldn't go back to center field if he was feeling anything, even a little something, in his hamstring.
And Kemp did concede after the game that taking a timeout to let the thing heal might be the course of action, even if he wasn't willing to concede that timeout might last long enough for a DL stint. At any rate, we should get a definitive answer by the time players start showing up at the ballpark on Monday afternoon, so stay tuned.