Don Mattingly plans to ease Matt Kemp back into the lineup when he returns, but Kemp has different ideas.
By MICHAEL MARTINEZFS West
LOS ANGELES –
Matt Kemp, who has been limited to 37 at-bats in the past three months, had a productive workout running the bases Tuesday and could begin a rehab assignment in the minors by Thursday.
Kemp hasn't played since he sprained his left ankle sliding into home plate July 21 at Washington. He's been on the disabled list three times this season.
"I thought it went good today," Kemp said. "I was a little skeptical, but it turned out to be really, really good. It felt good. It was pretty fun to get out there and run. It's been a while."
If Kemp feels good Wednesday, the plan is for him to run the bases again before heading out for a minor league rehab, most likely at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. The Quakes' season ends Monday.
Kemp said he was unsure how many at-bats he'll need before he's ready to rejoin the team, but he indicated it wouldn't be many.
"I'll know when I'm ready," he said. "You can't put a number on any of that.
"You can definitely work on your timing and get that groove back. And when I do join the team, I'll be ready to go. I just need at-bats."
Manager Don Mattingly has stressed that, with four capable outfielders, someone will have to sit and likely be unhappy. He has also talked about easing Kemp back into the lineup, but Kemp seemed to reject that idea.
"Ease back?" he repeated. "If I feel good, I'm going to play. I mean,
when I feel good. I'm going to be good. I'm going to help this team in any way I can. . . . I'm a center fielder. That's my role, to play center field every day."
With Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig playing well defensively and contributing on offense, it might not be that easy for Mattingly to simply plug in Kemp and bench a player.
"Obviously, I don't want to throw anybody aside," Mattingly said. "But I think you get to a point in a season, for all of our guys, it's got to be about us winning. Matt's had a rough year physically. That's not that hard to see, so I think Matt's going to understand where we're at. He sees what's going on."