- Mark Saxon, ESPNLosAngeles.com
- 0 Shares
LOS ANGELES -- Matt Kemp dismisses the question with a curt, "The shoulder's good."
And, perhaps it is good, rebuilt and stronger than ever. Maybe he doesn't feel any twinges when he misses a nasty slider or soreness after 20 minutes of swing after punishing swing in the batting cage.
But it's hard to entirely trust Kemp's word about his body after the end of last season, when he played through pain and batted .214 with 35 strikeouts in his final 28 games after that collision with a wall in Colorado.
Since his October surgery, the evidence of Kemp's recovery is this: He batted .250 with one home run in 52 spring training at-bats and has begun this season 0-for-10. It might be a random distribution, appropos of nothing other than a tiny little cold spell at the start of an epic season.
Manager Don Mattingly says he saw enough in Arizona to be convinced that Kemp is fine. He liked his first few at-bats Wednesday, a couple of deep fly outs and a walk. In his fourth plate appearance, Kemp hit into the rally-killing double play that felt like the pivotal moment of the Los Angeles Dodgers' 5-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
Kemp says he got a little antsy and swung at a pitcher's pitch. It happens. What always becomes a concern early in the season is that a player's struggles will cause an early spiral that can eat up a good chunk of the first month or so. The sooner Kemp gets going, the sooner this upgraded offense figures to ignite.
"I think Matt's pressing a little bit, that's for sure," Mattingly said. "I think he's trying to get going. Obviously, when you get into your third game and you haven't got a hit yet, it just climbs a little bit, the exact opposite of getting off to a good start."
Kemp sounded undaunted.
"It's three games," Kemp said. "It won't be the last time I have a bad series, I promise you that. It's baseball."
4hESPN Stats & Information