Amid criticism, Kemp ups tornado relief donation

LOS ANGELES — Matt Kemp’s pledge to donate $1,000 for every home run he hits to the Red Cross relief effort in Oklahoma should have gone over as a gracious gesture, but it fell short in some social media circles. So the Dodgers outfielder recently upped the ante, making a $250,000 donation.

Whether it’s enough to quiet his critics, especially in light of the $1 million donation from Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant, doesn’t seem to concern Kemp. He was born in Midwest City, Okla., and his aunt and uncle live in Moore, where the recent tornado did most of its damage, so he feels he’s doing all he can to help.

“I’m just trying to do the little things to help out, and whatever I can do, I’m going to continue to do that,” he said.

Kemp made an appearance on the daytime talk show “Ellen,” and said the show’s host, Ellen DeGeneres, pledged $100,000 to the Red Cross in his name. The show will be aired Tuesday.

“It’s hard for me to be there now because I’m here playing baseball, but if I could be out there right now helping people out, I would be,” he said. “I’m just trying to do my part here in LA.

“You turn on the TV and they’re talking about Oklahoma, so it’s continually on my mind. My thoughts and my prayers go out to everyone there.”

Kemp, who earlier this month gave a sick fan an autographed baseball, his game jersey, hat and cleats, said he would donate $1,000 for every homer until the All-Star break, but given his slow offensive output this season, the additional funds he donated are welcome. Through Friday, May 24, Kemp has just two homers this season and only one since making his pledge.