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Dodgers' Matt Kemp is ejected after arguing balls and strikes

Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp was warned twice to stop arguing balls and strikes; after striking out and arguing again in the fifth inning Saturday, he was ejected.

June 25, 2011|By Baxter Holmes
  • Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly argues with home plate umpire Chris Conroy after Matt Kemp, left, was ejected during the fifth inning of the Dodgers' 6-1 loss to the Angels on Saturday.
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly argues with home plate umpire Chris Conroy… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

What exactly did Matt Kemp say to earn a swift ejection in the fifth inning Saturday?

"I'm not getting into that," he said.

Well, at least crew chief Tom Hallion was happy to share the umpire's side of the story.

In the fifth, the Dodgers outfielder complained about the first pitch during his at-bat, Hallion said after the Dodgers' 6-1 loss to the Angels at Dodger Stadium.

Then, on a called strike three, which looked to have been a tad outside the strike zone, Kemp walked back to the dugout.

But once there, Hallion said, Kemp yelled out: "Keep it on the plate; let's go."

If true, it seems a misdemeanor offense, since it lacked R-rated vitriol.

Yet prior to saying that, Hallion said, Kemp had twice been warned by home plate umpire Chris Conroy for making remarks from the dugout.

"He told him that's enough," Hallion said. "He said, 'That's time to knock it off.' And then he yelled it out after that."

Kemp barreled out of the dugout to argue his ejection, which was his second of the season and third of his career.

And Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly was right behind him, ready to deliver his two cents, too.

"People really come to see Matt play," Mattingly said. "To me, at that point Chris [Conroy], all he's got to do is keep his head straight away. Matt's not screaming or cussing or anything else. He's just frustrated with the call."

Hallion countered that point.

"Donnie's complaint was that we have to keep him in the game, but where do you draw the line?" Hallion said. "Is four [warnings] enough? Five times? Two is enough to know better."

Kemp was muted about the ejection: "I let my emotions get the best of me."

Mattingly stuck by his player: "Matt has a responsibility to not get out of hand. To me, there, he's not out of hand."

Kemp's ejection was similar to his May 29 booting against Florida, when he also left after arguing called strikes.

In that game, Kemp was ejected as he walked off the field and didn't realize he'd been ejected until being told in the dugout.

"I didn't know you could kick somebody out when you're not even looking at them," Kemp said then of the umpire, Ron Kulpa.

In that ejection, the Dodgers won 8-0, but in Saturday's loss, his hot bat would have come in handy.

"Obviously he's got a couple of at-bats left, and who more do you want up there than him?" Dodgers infielder Casey Blake said.

These days, it's hard to find a better candidate.

Kemp entered Saturday with a strong bid for the National League triple crown, having hit an NL-best 21 home runs, ranking second in batting average (.331), and third in runs driven in (60).

He's on pace for a career year, which comes on the heels of his struggles last season that culminated when then-manager Joe Torre benched him and when General Manager Ned Colletti criticized him on the radio.

But this season, Kemp has flashed not just a much-improved game, but also a more mature, upbeat attitude.

And his post-ejection response Saturday, even if it was canned, was exhibit A of that.

"I can't do that," Kemp said. "I have to be in there fighting with my team."

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

twitter.com/baxterholmes

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