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Don Mattingly pushes pause on Kemp's struggles

4/17/2013

LOS ANGELES -- The low point of what has been a two-week grind for Matt Kemp may have come in Tuesday night's game. He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and made two listless, off-line throws from center field.

After watching that performance, manager Don Mattingly decided Kemp could use a day off. He was not in Wednesday night's lineup, replaced in center field by Skip Schumaker and in the No. 3 spot by Andre Ethier.

Through 14 games, Kemp is batting .185 with 17 strikeouts and three walks. Counting spring training, Kemp has one home run in his last 106 at-bats. Since he injured his shoulder at the end of last August, Kemp has struck out 52 times and walked nine times.

Mattingly figured it was time to let Kemp step back and get a different perspective, from the bench.

He said he decided on Wednesday's move after reading Kemp's body language during Tuesday's game. Kemp took early batting practice four hours before Wednesday's game with Schumaker and Nick Punto. He was working on reaching pitches in the lower half of the strike zone.

"Matt doesn't really get down, but I don't care who you are or what you've been through, when you struggle everybody feels the same," Mattingly said. "I know exactly the feeling he's having and I've had plenty of them and they're just not any fun. You get to where you just lose confidence a little bit. You know it's coming back, but at that moment it feels like it's so far away."

Kemp said he preferred to remain in the lineup, but he deferred to Mattingly, whose nickname is "Donnie Baseball."

"I don't ever want to sit out. I want to play baseball games, but I didn't make the lineup out tonight. Donnie B did," Kemp said. "He told me I needed a night off and I respect it."

Kemp broke up an interview after a few questions, saying he didn't want to talk about what he's working on.

"I'm just not doing what I need to be doing, guys. You're not going to get anything really out of me. I can't explain to you what's going on," Kemp said. "I've just got to do a better job of helping my team out."

He then said, "Go ask somebody else some questions."

Here are lineups for Wednesday:

San Diego

1. Chris Denorfia CF

2. Everth Cabrera SS

3. Chase Headley 3B

4. Jesus Guzman LF

5. Yonder Alonso 1B

6. Jedd Gyorko 2B

7. Kyle Blanks RF

8. Nick Hundley C

9. Tyson Ross RHP

Dodgers

1. Carl Crawford LF

2. Mark Ellis 2B

3. Andre Ethier RF

4. Adrian Gonzalez 1B

5. A.J. Ellis C

6. Skip Schumaker CF

7. Nick Punto 3B

8. Justin Sellers SS

9. Clayton Kershaw LHP