LOS ANGELES — Matt Kemp’s shoulder is fine, and his left ankle is getting there, but the Dodgers outfielder made no pronouncements Saturday about whether he’ll be ready for the team’s season opener in Australia next month.
When he’s ready to play, he’ll play.
"I’m not in a rush to get back right now," Kemp said after appearing at the Dodgers’ Fanfest at Dodger Stadium. "I just want to be 100 percent, and when I’m 100 percent that’s when I’ll start playing."
Kemp is coming back from two offseason surgeries, one to clean up his left shoulder from a procedure in 2012 and another to repair a microfracture of the talus bone in his left ankle.
He’s been hitting in a batting cage for a while, but he has yet to resume running. His caution about returning too quickly, he said, is a result of rushing back last season from several injuries that put him on the disabled list and ended his season early.
"I rushed back a little bit too fast, but it is what it is," he said. "I love playing baseball. I hate sitting out watching my team play and not getting to play with them. I kind of rushed back. It’s something that I did. My shoulder feels great right now, and I’m excited about that."
Kemp injured his ankle on an awkward slide into home plate July 21 at Washington. He returned to the lineup in mid-September, but he was declared out of the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.
His agent, Dave Stewart, recently said he had told Kemp to take his time rehabbing his injuries, and it appears Kemp is on board with that approach.
That’s why a trip to Australia for the Dodgers’ season-opening series March 22-23 might be too ambitious.
"We’re all on the same page," Kemp said. "I’ve got to make sure I’m healthy and everything is good. Like I said, I’m not going to rush it. When it’s right it’s right, and that’s when I’ll be playing."
The only thing Kemp seems certain about is that he’s not a platoon player. The Dodgers have four outfielders – Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier — but Kemp said he’s not interested in sharing time in center field.
"I’m an everyday player," he said. "I play every day, so I don’t want to even talk about that. I’m trying to play every day. I’m not trying to get days off."
Kemp, who is one year into an eight-year, $160-million contract, won’t have to worry about a platoon if he returns to his 2011 form, when he hit .324 with 39 home runs. But he played in just 73 games last season and heard his name mentioned in trade rumors.
He’s not interested in going elsewhere, he said.
"This is where I want to be," he said. "When you hear your name being thrown around in trades, it’s a little disappointing. But it’s part of the game. I can’t control that. The only thing I can control is going out there and playing and doing what I need to do to help my team win.