Another setback for Kemp, Dodgers
May, 30, 2012
By Tony Jackson | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- By the end, Matt Kemp had gotten over the anger, which was what caused him to break a bat over his knee in the Los Angeles Dodgers dugout in full view of television cameras. And by the time the Los Angeles Dodgers' first three-game losing streak of the season had become a reality with a 6-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers before 25,509 on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, Kemp's anger had given way to disappointment, resignation and, to some degree, disbelief.
It won't be official until after Kemp undergoes an MRI exam on Thursday morning, but there isn't much doubt that barely 24 hours after coming off the 15-day disabled list, Kemp is going right back there, with the same left hamstring strain that landed him there in the first place.
"I would think so," he said.
Kemp wouldn't admit that he had come back too soon, and given the circumstances, why would he? He had spent two games rehabbing at Triple-A Albuquerque, going 5-for-7 with nary a hint of pain in his hammy, and he had played nine innings on Tuesday night against the Brewers with the same result.
"I did all the tests," Kemp said. "I ran hard and did everything I needed to to make sure it was good. ... Last night, I hit that little nubber back to the pitcher and sprinted to first base. That was a big test, and I didn't feel it. And then later, I hit the double and ran hard to second."
Kemp's hamstring passed every one of those tests, easily. So why did it suddenly give out on him as he rounded third base in the first inning on Wednesday night, on his way from first to home with the Dodgers' first run on Andre Ethier's double?
"I don't know what happened," Kemp said. "It's just kind of gave out. It's definitely frustrating, having just come back, and now I will be sitting out a while. ... I tried to hide it, but there really was no hiding this."
Kemp said manager Don Mattingly immediately approached him when he got to the dugout.
"He came around third, and it didn't look right to me," Mattingly said.
Kemp then reacted angrily, not at Mattingly but at his rotten luck and the reappearance of something he really thought he had put behind him for good.
"It wasn't his fault my hamstring flared up," Kemp said. "I was frustrated because I love to play the game. I can't be mad at Donnie B. It was just the frustration of being out."
That frustration isn't limited to Kemp himself. When he strained his hamstring the first time, the Dodgers were flying high. And although he is the best offensive player on what isn't a particularly good offensive club, the Dodgers were able to ride that momentum through Kemp's absence, going 9-5 without him.
This time, they have lost three in a row to a Brewers team that has owned them this year, and the Dodgers also are at arguably their lowest point of the season with Clayton Kershaw having turned in a rare bad outing to lose this one to Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo, who also showed up on a lot of those National League Cy Young Award ballots last fall.
"Obviously, we're going to have to regroup," Mattingly said. "This is a little bit of a downer because we battled through that two-week period (without Kemp), just battled and battled and got through it. We were looking forward to getting close to full strength, and then we kind of take another shot.
"This is a little bit of a downer, but we need to regroup at this point."
Presumably, Kemp will be placed on the DL again on Thursday, and Jerry Sands may be recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque less than 48 hours after he was shipped off to New Orleans to join the Isotopes on a road trip. Mattingly was asked after the game whether there was a temptation to go ahead and activate outfielder Juan Rivera, who also is on the DL with a strained left hamstring, who went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in a rehab game for advanced Single-A Rancho Cucamonga on Wednesday night and who was hoping for a Friday return.
"That's probably the last thing we should do," Mattingly said.
That wasn't an admission that Kemp had come back too early, but it was a concession on Mattingly's part that you can never be too careful with hamstrings, and a clear indication that when it comes to Kemp, the Dodgers will err this time on the side of caution. That means Kemp may not be back in two weeks, even if he is feeling as good then as he was on Tuesday. That means that this time, Kemp won't set foot in a major league game until he is sure, until everyone involved is sure, that this won't happen again.
Only problem with that is, you can never be sure this won't happen again. It already has. And for that, the Dodgers will be a little worse off for a while.