LOS ANGELES (AP) — Matt Kemp’s hopes for a simple surgery on his left shoulder were dashed when the Los Angeles Dodgers slugger awoke to learn things were worse than doctors had first thought.
Kemp was in Arizona on Wednesday to begin rehabbing from the Oct. 5 surgery that repaired a torn labrum and damage to the rotator cuff, injuries resulting from a crash into the center field wall at Coors Field on Aug. 27.
“I was definitely surprised and definitely disappointed,” he told reporters by phone in his first public comments since the surgery. “I wish it would have just been a simple cleanup. It’s going to take close to January before I can hit and do a lot of other things.”
Doctors have said Kemp should be ready by spring training. He has been biking and walking on a treadmill since the surgery, and will now step up his rehab program.
Kemp missed 51 games earlier in the season with a strained left hamstring, and then chose to play through the shoulder pain to finish the season.
“I already asked the doctors if I could damage it any more than it was damaged and they said no, so I kept playing,” he said. “When they went in there, they were surprised I was still playing because it was worse than what they had thought.”
Kemp clearly wasn’t the same player after hitting the wall. He was batting .337 before, when the Dodgers trailed San Francisco by two games in the NL West. Afterward, he hit .214 while the team ended the season nine games behind the Giants.
“As long as I do my rehab right, I’ll be able to be back to where I want to be,” he said.
Kemp described the surgery as “pretty scary,” the most serious procedure he’s had in his major league career. The 28-year-old right-handed hitter had hand surgery while in the minors.
“Any surgery can be scary when you have somebody cut on you,” he said. “I got through it OK.”
Beforehand, Kemp spoke to teammates Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez, who both underwent similar procedures.
“Adrian said I’ll be good and feel better once the rehab is over and I’ll get my strength back,” Kemp said.
Kemp isn’t the only Dodgers outfielder coming off surgery. Left fielder Carl Crawford, acquired from Boston in a nine-player trade on Aug. 25, has had Tommy John and wrist surgeries, and he didn’t suit up after the trade.
Last season, Kemp said his goal was 50 home runs and 50 stolen bases. He finished with 23 and nine, and has reassessed his plans for next season.
“Be healthy. That’s the main goal,” he said. “If I’m healthy, then good things should happen.”