ANAHEIM, Calif. — Matt Kemp’s season has been a struggle. Now it’s gotten worse.
The Dodgers center fielder was put on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a mild strain in his right hamstring, an injury he sustained chasing down a fly ball in the gap in the seventh inning Wednesday.
“It’s not bad luck, it’s life,” said Kemp, who has just two home runs and 17 RBIs in 51 games this season. “Things happen. It is what it is. You’ve just got to deal with it.”
To fill Kemp’s spot on the roster, the Dodgers called up catcher Tom Federowicz for the fourth time this season and put him in the starting lineup against the Angels.
The Dodgers would have preferred to bring up an outfielder, but regular catcher A.J. Ellis has a mild strain in his left side, so the team opted to have Federowicz as a backup plan until they know the severity of Ellis’ injury.
Right fielder Andre Ethier started Thursday’s game against the Angels in center, a position he has played but not with any kind of regularity. He was used as a defensive replacement for one game last season and started the 2010 All-Star Game at Angel Stadium because the National League team had no center fielders on its roster. It marked his first professional start in center.
Manager Don Mattingly said a move to add an everyday center fielder probably will be made by this weekend when the team is in Colorado.
The most likely candidate to be summoned is Tony Gwynn Jr., who has been with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes all season, but spent the past two seasons playing for the Dodgers. Through 45 games, Gwynn was hitting .288 (40 for 139). Matt Angle has also played center for the Isotopes and is batting .293.
The Dodgers are taking a cautious approach. Last season, he had two stints on the DL because of a hamstring pull and played in just 106 games.
“I don’t want to be in the same situation where I was last year where I come back and hurt it again and sit out another month,” he said. “It’s just not what I want to happen. I want to get it better now.
“It’s disappointing. I love playing baseball and I hate being hurt. This is my second year being hurt. This is a small, little obstacle, but I’m used to playing 162 games and playing every day, so my second year being hurt is kind of frustrating.”
Until the Dodgers make another move, Mattingly’s only other viable options in center are Scott Van Slyke and Skip Schumaker.