PHOENIX — Matt Kemp doesn’t know when he’ll play his first game this year. But he knows this: He isn’t a fourth outfielder.
Smiling and shaking his head after the Dodgers’ first full-squad workout of the spring, Kemp said, "I’m not a fourth outfielder. We can cut that question off right now. That’s the last question you have to ask me. I’m not a fourth outfielder. I’m not going to be a fourth outfielder. I’m here to help my team win and play every day. We can stop right there."
Asked if the presence of Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford made it easier for him to take his time returning from ankle surgery, Kemp said, "When it’s time for me to come back, I’m going to come back and be the same player I’ve been in previous years when I was healthy.
"I don’t know where you get this fourth outfielder talk from, man. You all love talking about four outfielders, man. That’s like the question of the day every day. I think all four of us outfielders feel the same way. None of us are fourth outfielders. Everybody wants to play every day. I won’t accept that role. I canât accept that role."
Kemp, who is recovering from an ankle operation, is still restricted from running, but he has been able to hit. He said his shoulder feels better than it did last year, when he was returning from a major shoulder operation.
"I couldn’t really get to the ball," he said. "I was cutting my swing off. I couldn’t get extension."
He said that after a minor cleanup of the same shoulder, now he can.
Kemp raised his arm as if following through on a swing and said, "When y’all see that go up in the air like that, y’all know something good happened."