In yesterday’s blog article I wrote that perhaps it would be best if Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp were to sit out the rest of the season because the team was doing just fine without him – exceptionally fine, in fact. I based my opinion solely on what I had seen of Kemp during his four rehab appearances with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. In a nutshell, Matt Kemp looked horrible. He had gone a dismal 0 for 14 with seven strikeouts and was chasing pitches that were low and away. It was painfully reminiscent of the 2010 Matt Kemp – the Rihanna Matt Kemp. He looked so bad that I actually felt sorry for him.
But then something happened during Monday afternoon’s Quakes/JetHawks game – something that changed my opinion; enough so that I felt obligated to write about it.
It wasn’t that Kemp got a hit. In fact, he went 0 for 4 to extend his hitless streak to 18 – but it was how he went 0 for 4 that changed my opinion.
In hit first at bat of the game, Kemp actually pulled a slider sharply to the shortstop for a ground out. “Huh… he pulled a slider,” I thought to myself.
In his second at bat, Kemp hit a towering pop-up to short right field, and I mean it was way up there which, of course, gave the right fielder all day to get under it and make the catch. “Huh… he hit the ball to right field,” I thought to myself.
In his third at bat, Kemp pulled a fastball sharply to the third baseman for a ground out. “Huh… he really turned on that pitch,” I thought to myself.
In his fourth and final at bat of the day, Kemp hit yet another towering pop-up, this one in the right field gap and even higher than the first one, and were it not for an outstanding running catch by JetHawks right fielder Chris Epps, Kemp’s 0-fer streak would have ended. “Okay, he hit that ball in the exact direction where most of his home runs go and he just missed it,” I thought to myself.
Now granted, Kemp is now 0 for 18 in his rehab assignment, but he hit the ball well in each of his four at bats on Monday afternoon and he hit it to all fields – short, third, right and right/center. As such, and upon further review, I now believe that the Matt Kemp of 2011 may not be too far away – and wouldn’t that be something heading into the post-season.
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It was reported after Monday’s Dodger game that Kemp would be remaining at Rancho Cucamonga to continue his rehab assignment. With the Quakes having clinched a playoff Wild Card spot, they are scheduled to play the Inland Empire 66ers on Wednesday evening at LoanMart Field and Kemp is eligible and will most likely play in that game. The winner of that game will face the JetHawks in Lancaster on Saturday. Should it be the Quakes, I do not believe that Kemp will join them but will instead be reactivated from the DL and will join the Dodgers in Cincinnati. Please keep in mind that this is all speculation on my part.