Matt Kemp catches a fly ball hit by Chicago Cubs' Geovany Soto on Saturday. (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press )
Caution can be a good thing, a smart thing. It certainly is called for at times during the course of a 162-game season.
[Updated, 7:31 p.m.: The Dodgers have the best player in baseball in Matt Kemp. He still leads the majors in batting average (.406), is second in home runs (12), and is third in RBIs (27).] He’s so good, the Dodgers cannot afford to lose him for any length of time.
So why risk more serious injury by continuing to play him with a clearly sore hamstring? Why not sit him for the next two days – the Dodgers are off Thursday – to give his hamstring three solid days to heal?
Does anyone think Kemp’s hamstring is all that healthy?
“It scares me,” said manager Don Mattingly.
He should be scared. If Kemp really goes down, the Dodgers are toast. Should be scared enough to sit him, really sit him.
Yet Kemp plays on. He sat out Sunday’s game in the cold weather in Chicago, yet later pinch hit. A completely meaningless pinch hit that the Register’s Howard Cole rightly said was putting Kemp’s consecutive-games streak ahead of the greater team good.
Why? Kemp’s streak is at 394 games and in the larger picture means relatively little. Apparently, however, it matters to Kemp, who said Sunday: “It kind of does mean something for me to play every day, but I don't want to do anything dumb to put my team in a situation where they lose me for a week or two weeks.”
Kemp is all but walking with a limp. In the second inning Monday he ran hard into the gap to chase down a Joaquin Arias drive, but otherwise seemed to play gingerly.
“I was just being careful,” Kemp said.
Careful would be sitting down and giving the hamstring a real chance to heal.
“He’s a guy who knows his body really well, but I can tell he’s not running like he usually does,” Mattingly said. “I keep talking to the medical people and they keep telling me he’s OK.”
Kemp went 3-for-3 Monday with a double, so it’s not like he still can’t be productive. But there is definite risk involved, and Kemp is the one player the Dodgers should not be rolling the dice with. It's neither smart nor cautious.
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