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Dodgers' Matt Kemp making progress but not rushing to return

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

The outfielder, who is on the disabled list as he recovers from a strained hamstring, ran the bases Thursday and Friday and has been taking batting practice. Kemp says he doesn't want another setback.

June 23, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez, Los Angeles Times
  • Matt Kemp is on the disabled list as he recovers from a strained hamstring.
Matt Kemp is on the disabled list as he recovers from a strained hamstring. (Thearon W. Henderson / Getty…)

The days on the bench have turned into weeks. The weeks are about to turn into months.

Matt Kemp is still waiting to play.

"It feels weird," Kemp said. "It definitely feels weird. I miss baseball. I want to play."

Kemp shook his head.

"Things happen, things happen for a reason," he said. "It's where I'm at right now. This is part of my life. This is part of baseball right here, getting hurt."

Kemp has played in only two of the Dodgers' last 37 games. He returned from a strained hamstring May 29, only to reinjure himself two days later.

No timetable has been set for his return — "We'll see," Kemp said of playing in the July 10All-Star game— but he appears to be progressing in his recovery. He ran the bases Thursday in Oakland and Friday in Anaheim. He has been taking batting practice on the field with his teammates for a couple of weeks.

But Kemp has learned a lesson about patience.

At the time of his reinjury, he was adamant that he didn't return prematurely. He's no longer as sure about that.

"Maybe it was my fault, maybe I rushed it back the first time," Kemp said. "I thought I was good. It felt good. Running was good. This time I'm going to take a little bit more time."

His desire to play has been overtaken by a desire to not serve a third term on the disabled list.

"I want to play, man," he said. "But I don't want any more setbacks."

Kemp's urge to hurry back has also been tempered by where the Dodgers sit in the standings. The Dodgers entered Friday with a four-game lead over the second-place San Francisco Giants in the National League West.

"I know when I get back, I'm going to help these guys out," Kemp said. "But right now, they're doing a pretty good job."

Short hops

Sidelined reliever Javy Guerra threw 15 pitches in his first mound session since he underwent a minor knee operation earlier this month. "It felt great," he said. … Ted Lilly, who has been on the disabled list since May 24 with shoulder inflammation, played catch and reported being pain-free. … Former Mater Dei High star Cory Hahn attended the game in Anaheim on Friday as a guest of Andre Ethier. Hahn was paralyzed from the chest down last year playing for Arizona State, which is also Ethier's alma mater. … Reliever Blake Hawksworth gave up a run and a hit in one inning for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. Hawksworth, who struck out two, is still recovering from a pair of off-season elbow operations.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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