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Dodgers win, 4-1, but Matt Kemp is struggling

April 03, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp reacts after striking out during the Dodgers' 4-1 exhibition win over the Angels on Tuesday.
Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp reacts after striking out during the Dodgers'… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Now not to scare you, or get carried away, or really even try to suggest anything dire is at hand, but it still needs to be said that Matt Kemp is seriously scuffling.

And he has been for the last week, and it could even be argued, for most of the spring. Kemp has three hits in his last 23 at-bats, with 12 strikeouts.

Kemp was 0 for 3 on Tuesday in the Dodgers’ 4-1 victory over the Angels, striking out twice, grounding into a double play and driving in a run with a sacrifice fly.

Kemp is hitting a decent enough .266 and is tied with Juan Rivera for second on the team with 12 RBIs this spring.

Yet, he has also struck out a stunning 25 times in 64 at-bats. He struck out 16 times last spring, and only 12 times in 2010.

Not the arc you’re looking for from last year’s MVP runner-up, one who came into camp claiming he was aiming for the major’s first 50-homer, 50-steal season.

Which is not to suggest Kemp is in danger of slipping back into his 2011 funk, when too often he simply did not seem focused on the task. He came back from that season a more committed and determined player, and all signs are that his work ethic continues at a higher level.

Still, you just know after signing that $160-million contract, if Kemp struggles out of the gate, eyebrows will rise. The Dodgers, of course, have enough to be concerned about without having to worry about their star player.

Tuesday, however, most Dodgers news was of the positive variety.

In his last exhibition start, Aaron Harang had perhaps his best outing of the spring, holding the Angels scoreless for four innings. Harang ended his first spring as a Dodger with a 2.63 earned-run average in 24 innings.

A looping single by Justin Sellers drove in the go-ahead run and Matt Treanor singled in two more.

Starting catcher A.J. Ellis was hit by a pitch on the left triceps by Ervin Santana in the fifth inning and left the game.

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