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Matt Kemp remains a bright spot for Dodgers

He gets five RBIs in 9-5 win over the Diamondbacks to take National League lead. He also reaches 25 homers and 25 steals.

July 29, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp reacts after hitting a three-run home run against the Diamondbacks in the third inning Friday night at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp reacts after hitting a three-run home… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

Ned Colletti talked about the possibility of trading Hiroki Kuroda for a prospect, which is about as close as the general manager has come to conceding that the Dodgers' season is over. Ted Lilly served up two more home runs, resulting in boos from half-empty stands at Dodger Stadium.

But as the Dodgers continued to descend to irrelevance in a city in which they were once kings, Matt Kemp remained on a separate path to becoming one of the best players in baseball.

Kemp was as explosive Friday night as most of his teammates were non-threatening, driving in his team's first five runs in a 9-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, taking the National League lead with 80 runs batted in.

He belted his 25th home run in the third inning, making him the fifth-fastest NL player to hit 25 home runs and steal 25 bases in the same season.

Kemp, who has 27 steals, has played 105 games.

Willie Mays never reached the 25-25 plateau in fewer than 107 games.

The only players to get there sooner than Kemp were Eric Davis (83 games in 1987), Bobby Bonds (93 games in 1973), Alfonso Soriano (97 games in 2006) and Howard Johnson (99 games in 1989).

But not even Kemp's breakout season could lift these Dodgers.

The team has been reduced to becoming a seller in the days leading up to the nonwaiver trade deadline on Sunday — but it doesn't have much to sell that anyone wants.

The notable exception is Kuroda, who is 6-13 but has the second-best earned-run average among Dodgers starters at 3.11.

Kuroda earns $12 million this season, of which $4 million is deferred. Colletti said money isn't an issue, even though the team is bankrupt.

"I'm under no order to shed salary," Colletti said.

Colletti said he has narrowed the list of potential trade partners to a few, but Kuroda has a full no-trade clause in his contract. Colletti said he doesn't mind if the right-hander exercises it.

"I'm fine either way," Colletti said. "I really want to do what's good for him."

Kuroda was coy when asked about what he wanted. He offered the same answer to almost every question he fielded: "At this point, it's hard to answer that."

Of his reluctance to make any declarative statements, he said, "I'm at a critical crossroads. I don't think it's something to be taken lightly. I don't want to say anything carelessly that could be misconstrued."

But Kuroda has not told the Dodgers he wants to remain in Los Angeles no matter what the case, an indication he would at least entertain the idea of a move.

Another player who could face a similar decision is Rafael Furcal. Because Furcal has more than a decade of major league service time and has spent the last five years with the same team, he too can block any trade.

Though some teams have inquired about Furcal, their interest could be tempered by his $12-million salary and recent medical history. He has made two trips to the disabled list this season.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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