I guess we all kind of suspected that it might end this way, in spite of all of our wishing, hoping and praying – Matt Kemp is out for the entire post-season.
Nobody wanted it to end this way, least of all Matt Kemp, but it is as if his destiny for the 2013 season has now been fulfilled – the result of a lackadaisical (lazy) play on his own part when he jogged home instead of running hard and was then caught trying to decide between stepping on home or sliding. The end result was an awkward tumble that ended with a severely sprained left ankle that would land Kemp on the disabled list for 52 games. It was a preventable injury, it was a costly injury, it was a stupid injury; and with Andre Ethier currently out with his own ankle injury, Kemp’s foolish mistake very well may be the ultimate crushing blow for the 2013 Dodgers.
Kemp returned from the DL on September 16 and looked good, very good in fact. But while chasing down a fly ball in the gap in Friday night’s game… a meaningless game that the NL West Champion Dodgers won by a score of 11-0 over the last place Colorado Rockies, Kemp apparently aggravated his still healing left ankle. Ironically, Kemp said that he didn’t feel anything at the time, but noticed that his ankle was sore and stiff the next morning (Saturday).
When Kemp arrived at Dodger Stadium and began his workout routine, he noticed that the ankle was still sore and wasn’t loosening up. As a result, Mattingly scratched him from the lineup five minutes before game time.
On Sunday afternoon as his teammates were playing (and losing) another meaningless game against the Rockies, Kemp underwent an MRI. Midway through the game, the bad news was delivered to Kemp and to the Dodgers – shut down completely or run the risk of fracturing the ankle and possibly being lost for part or all of the 2014 season. It was a no-brainer – Kemp’s season was officially over.
“Pretty bad sign when they pull out the crutches,” Kemp told reporters when he returned to Dodger Stadium after his MRI. “To sum it up, if I keep going out there… I could break it, and I don’t want that. It could turn out really bad for me.”
Although Kemp has avoided surgery on the ankle thus far, Dodger team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache said there is a chance that Kemp might need arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips from his left ankle if his recovery does not go as planned.
“We fully expect that that will heal, given enough time and relative protection from weight bearing,” said ElAttrache. “But he’s going to be recovering from this into the off-season.”
Dr. ElAttrache caught the gathered media completely off guard when he said that Kemp would also undergo cleanup surgery on the AC joint in his left shoulder during the off-season. He added that a date for the procedure has not yet been set but estimates that a full recovery will probably take six weeks. Kemp added that he expects to be 100% for spring training 2014.
Those who have been critical of Kemp and his seemingly proneness to accidents might be quick to point out that the Dodgers went from worst to first without Matt Kemp, who was sidelined after re-injuring his right hamstring on May 30, 2013. And while it is true that the Dodgers went from last place and 9.5 games back in the NL West on June 21 to first place and 13 games ahead in the NL West in eight weeks without the services of Kemp, they had a healthy Andre Ethier subbing for Kemp in center field and doing an outstanding job. Unfortunately, the Dodgers do not have this same luxury heading into the National League Division Series, which begins on Thursday, and will most likely have the .263 / 30 RBI / 2 HR Skip Schumaker playing center field instead of the .272 / 52 RBI / 12 HR Andre Ethier.
The good news is that there is a very good possibility that Ethier may return in time for the National League Championship Series if the Dodgers can survive the Division Series against the Atlanta Braves.
This is where Dodger fans now need to focus all of their wishing, hoping and praying.