Saturday, May 25, 2013
It's not about feelings now, it's about wins
By Mark Saxon
LOS ANGELES -- You could feel the frustration of the past 12 months bubbling up for Matt Kemp in the seventh inning Saturday night.
It's not difficult to realize Matt Kemp is far from the player he was a year ago.
A year ago, he was batting .359 with a 1.173 OPS and just getting ready to come off the disabled list from the first of what would turn out to be a debilitating series of injuries. Saturday, he watched an opposing manager walk Adrian Gonzalez to get to him, heard the loudest boos yet at Dodger Stadium and got taken out on a double switch in a one-run game.
Eventually, the game adjusts to where you are, and right now everybody in the game knows Kemp's not the same player he was in May 2012.
So, if you happened to see Kemp yelling a few words in the direction of manager Don Mattingly after he was taken out in the Los Angeles Dodgers' 5-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday, see it as that -- a momentary lapse driven by mounting frustration. Both the player and the manager swear it's nothing more.
"I know Matt's frustrated with things, but there's nothing personal there," Mattingly said. "I love Matt. It was a baseball move. I try to make baseball moves all the time that give us the best chance to win."
A year ago, they were chanting, "MVP! MVP!" routinely when Kemp walked up to the plate. After he struck out on a changeup in the dirt in the sixth inning Saturday, the big crowd -- 49,368 strong -- let him have it. It was probably the loudest the boos have been yet for Kemp, who is batting .261 with a .657 OPS.
"It is what it is. That's how they feel Booing me, you know?," Kemp said. "Let them do what they want to do."
Mattingly doesn't really have a lot of time to think about feelings right now. This organization, which has spent enough to build palaces in the past 12 months, doesn't, either. The Dodgers have a chance to win their second straight series with a win on Sunday, with Clayton Kershaw pitching, and that's really where their focus is.
Anything else is just a spinoff drama.
Mattingly said he would sit down to discuss the issue with Kemp. He's already supposed to have a scheduled chat with Andre Ethier, whom he benched Wednesday for a general lack of competitive grit. The Dodgers might soon want to hire a therapist to help them work through their relationship issues.