With the Dodgers lineup currently resembling a M.A.S.H. unit, news yesterday that Matt Kemp would be at Chase Field prior to tonight’s series opener against the second place Arizona Diamondbacks was welcomed news. And even though Kemp’s reactivation from the disabled list will be determined on how his running and other baseball drills go today, it is quite conceivable that he may be in tonight’s starting lineup.
It’s no secret that Kemp had a horrible rehab assignment with the Advanced Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes earlier this month. In fact, he went 0 for 18 with seven strikeouts. He did, however, hit the ball extremely hard in each of his four at bats in his final game with the Quakes, including two towering pop-ups to right/center field – which is where his power is. Unfortunately, Kemp suffered a setback in his recovery while continuing his rehab at Camelback Ranch in Arizona for what was reported as a strained right hamstring (he was rehabbing his sprained left ankle).
With Hanley Ramirez, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig all nursing injuries and their return dates unknown (although Mattingly says that Hanley could be ready as early as today), Matt Kemp may very well prove to be the team’s lifesaver for the 13 games remaining in the regular season and into the post-season – if he can remain healthy, that is. What was initially lining up to be a battle between four guys fighting for three outfield spots is now a hope and a prayer of having three healthy outfielders for each remaining game.
It’s unfair to expect Kemp to come off of the DL and immediately tear it up and to be quite honest, he doesn’t need to. As the walking wounded begin returning to the lineup Kemp merely needs to get on base in one-third of his at bats and (hopefully) hit around .270-ish. What Kemp does not need to do is to try to hit every pitch into the next county, and trying to do so will do nothing more than extend his Rancho Cucamonga slump… with one very huge difference - Now the games count.