Matt Kemp ready for HR Derby

Updated: July 2, 2012, 2:38 AM ET
By Ramona Shelburne | ESPNLosAngeles.com

Matt Kemp took batting practice, ran the bases full speed and pronounced himself ready to captain the National League squad in the Home Run Derby at the All Star Break.

Andre Ethier ran, threw and was able to swing off a tee.

But for now, neither of the Los Angeles Dodgers sluggers will play in the All Star Game.

Kemp was voted into the All-Star Game but said he will have to sit out while he finishes his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury that's kept him out since the end of May.

"I don't think I'm going to be able to play in it," Kemp said Sunday before the Dodgers game against the Mets. "I'm going to go and enjoy the festivities the All Star Game has to bring, but I'm going to get healthy and get ready for the second half so we can make that push for the playoffs.

"I'm going to do the HR Derby, I'm going to have fun with it. It's just like taking batting practice, which I've been doing for the past three weeks. So I'm ready for that."

Ethier was a mild snub from the game after making it the past two seasons. He admitted to being disappointed, but given his current health issues, there might be a bright side. Ethier said he won't participate in the Home Run Derby.

"The main goal is just to get me healthy for that first day after we break," Ethier said. "Maybe it's a blessing sometimes when you don't get voted into the game so you can keep resting up and making sure you're healthy.

Kemp is scheduled to start a minor league rehab assignment for Class A Rancho Cucamonga this week, possibly as soon as Tuesday.

Ethier remains "day to day" and said he hopes to play before the All-Star break, but the longer he stays out, the more the Dodgers have to weigh holding him out and allowing him those extra four days of rest.

"As we get closer to those days, what is the risk and what is the reward?" Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Do we bite the bullet for an extra four days?"

Mattingly said the goal is to have Kemp, Ethier, Mark Ellis (leg) and reliever Javy Guerra back at full strength for the second half of the season.

"Soon as we walk out of that break, I want to be able to walk out with every guy that we have available," he said.

"To be able to know 100 percent that when we start that second half, we're full boat. Guys are back. Whatever position we're at at that point, that's the team we've designed. We're back to that team and let's see if we're good enough or not. That's kind of our scale with Andre moving forward."

Ellis is expected back for the Dodgers final series of the first half in Arizona. Kemp said he's targeting July 13, the day after the All-Star break. Ethier should come back somewhere in between.

"I definitely want to play before the All-Star break, just so I can get those games in," said Ethier, who has missed the lat three games after injuring his oblique on a check swing Wednesday in San Francisco, but so far hasn't been placed on the disabled list.

"I don't want to sit out that long. Obviously I know I'm taking up a spot because there's no DL on me yet. So I want to be able to come out and help the team any way I can. I don't want to be clogging up a roster spot doing nothing.

"But (everyone) just came up to me individually and said, 'Make sure you're healthy when everyone else is healthy.' That's the biggest key right now."

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