Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp could remain out of the lineup until after… (Thearon W. Henderson / Getty…)
SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Kemp isn't expected to return from the disabled list until after the All-Star break, meaning he probably won't play in the All-Star game and the Dodgers will be without their $160-million center fielder for at least two more weeks.
"We're hoping to get him back after the break," Manager Don Mattingly said Monday.
Kemp, who is recovering from a strained hamstring, landed on the disabled list for the second time this season May 31. The All-Star break begins July 9. Counting their game in San Francisco on Tuesday, the Dodgers have 13 more games until then.
Kemp was leading the National League in votes in the last round of All-Star balloting, but Mattingly said he wouldn't be allowed to participate in the July 10 game unless he has played for the Dodgers. General Manager Ned Colletti described Kemp as a "longshot" to play in the All-Star game.
"We've kind of talked about it as an organization," Mattingly said. "I know Matt wants to play, but it's hard to let him play his first game during the All-Star game."
Kemp could still participate in the home run-hitting contest, as Mattingly has been assured by the team's medical staff that it wouldn't jeopardize his health. Kemp will be the captain of the NL group in the event.
Kemp agrees with the plan, according to Mattingly. But Kemp wouldn't say so himself.
"I'm not talking about the All-Star game right now," he said. "What I'm worried about is getting back and helping my team."
Walking briskly to the Dodgers' clubhouse after batting practice, Kemp was also reluctant to talk about a timetable for his return.
"We'll deal with that when the time comes, man," he said.
Mattingly is hopeful Kemp can start a minor league rehabilitation before the All-Star break. Kemp will have to play in five or six minor league games before he is activated, the manager said.
The Dodgers come out of the All-Star break July 13, when they face the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.
Ivan De Jesus likes pinch-hitting
Utilityman Ivan De Jesus thinks he might have found his niche doing something few young players are capable of doing: pinch-hitting.
De Jesus, 25, was three for 12 with two walks and a sacrifice in 15 pinch-hit plate appearances before Monday.
"I have a little routine that's been helping me," he said.
Before games, he watches videos of left-handed relievers, who are the pitchers he thinks he is most likely to face. In the third or fourth inning, he often disappears into the batting cages behind the dugout to get warmed up. And he frequently asks for advice from Bobby Abreu and other veterans.
"It's not easy coming off the bench," De Jesus said. "I would like to play every day, but I'm happy with what I'm doing right now."
Mark Ellis could be back in the lineup before Kemp. Mattingly said Ellis is close to starting a minor league rehabilitation assignment. Ellis has been on the disabled list since May 19, when he underwent an emergency leg operation. Like Kemp, Ellis has been taking batting practice on the field and running the bases.