Friday, June 10, 2011
Matt Kemp hopeful for return
By Tony Jackson
DENVER -- Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp was hopeful after Friday night's game against the Colorado Rockies that he could return to the lineup Saturday but that he will have to test his left hamstring during pregame warmups before making a decision.
Kemp was scratched from the lineup just before game time when he continued to experience tightness that he originally felt running out a double in the seventh inning Thursday night.
Kemp came off the bench to pinch hit in the ninth inning Friday, extending the longest consecutive games-played streak in the majors to 269. He hit a monstrous home run, his 19th of the season, off Rockies reliever Matt Belisle onto the concourse beyond the left-field seats.
"It feels a little better," Kemp said after the game. "I can't really tell too much because I haven't done too much running. We'll see [about Saturday]."
The late scratch was nothing more than a precautionary measure to avoid doing more serious damage to the hamstring.
In a season in which the Dodgers have been decimated by injuries, losing Kemp for any length of time would be their most devastating blow yet. He entered play on Thursday leading the National League with 18 home runs and sitting in second with 53 RBIs, and he has been by far the Dodgers' most productive offensive player this season.
"I got an at-bat," Kemp said. "I want to try to get as many at-bats as I can to keep that feel that I'm feeling right now. I feel good at the plate, and I don't want to take days off. I'm not saying I would lose it, but it's always good to see pitches every day."
Kemp was replaced in the lineup by Trent Oeltjen, who was called up from Triple-A Albuquerque on Thursday. Oeltjen was inserted in left field, with Tony Gwynn Jr. moving over from left field to center.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.