Monday, June 24, 2013
Matt Kemp could be back by midweek
By Mark Saxon
Matt Kemp was in the lineup at Triple-A Albuquerque on Monday night, batting second between Dee Gordon and Scott Van Slyke.
It will be Kemp's final game in his rehab assignment, at least for now. Manager Don Mattingly said Kemp will fly back to Los Angeles on Tuesday, meet with the team and figure out whether he's ready to come off the 15-day disabled list.
In the first two games at Albuquerque, Kemp went 1-for-8 with five strikeouts. Mattingly intimated that Kemp might need more at-bats to get his swing ready, but Albuquerque travels to play Memphis next, so if Kemp continues playing minor league games, it would likely be for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. Kemp has been on the DL since May 30 with a strained right hamstring.
"Obviously, you've still got to make sure the leg's holding up and then, from there, it's just letting him get his timing," Mattingly said. "We don't want him to come back until he's ready."
The Dodgers have little idea whether they'll be getting the 2011 Kemp (.986 OPS), the 2013 Kemp (.640 OPS) or, most likely, something in between.
The more intriguing question will arise about two weeks later, when Carl Crawford is set to come off the DL. At that point, the Dodgers will have four outfielders making $69.2 million combined and one of them will have to be left out of the starting lineup every game. The player who makes the least, Yasiel Puig, figures to play the most.
"Puig pretty much put himself in the outfield," Mattingly said. "The things he's doing, he's really the guy that somebody has to displace. Right now, Yasiel's going to play."
Mattingly said Andre Ethier could continue to play some center field after Kemp and Crawford return, which raises the possibility he and Kemp will split time in something resembling a platoon.
Here are lineups for Monday night's game versus the San Francisco Giants:
1. Gregor Blanco CF
2. Marco Scutaro 2B
3. Buster Posey C
4. Hunter Pence RF
5. Pablo Sandoval 3B
6. Joaquin Arias SS
7. Andres Torres LF
8. Brandon Belt 1B
9. Madison Bumgarner
1. Mark Ellis 2B
2. Yasiel Puig RF
3. Adrian Gonzalez 1B
4. Hanley Ramirez SS
5. Jerry Hairston Jr. LF
6. Andre Ethier CF
7. Juan Uribe 3B
8. A.J. Ellis C
9. Hyun-Jin Ryu LHP