Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp grounds out in the third inning against… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)
As Matt Kemp ran to first base while grounding out in the third inning Sunday against Colorado, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly could tell something wasn't right with his center fielder.
Kemp had strained his left hamstring a week earlier, and now it appeared he had aggravated the injury again.
So as Kemp started to take the field in the fourth inning, Mattingly said he told the slugger, " 'Matt, if you feel anything at all, you can't go out there.'"
"That's when he turned around" and back toward the bench, Mattingly said, confirming the manager's suspicion. Kemp then threw his cap and glove into the dugout.
"I wasn't mad at Donnie," Kemp said. "I'm just frustrated — kind of haven't been able to play as I want to play."
Kemp will have an MRI exam Monday and then the Dodgers will decide whether he needs additional rest.
Asked whether he was willing to place Kemp on the 15-day disabled list, Mattingly said, "I'm not afraid to do it" but that it would depend on what the MRI shows and input from the team medical staff.
Kemp, however, said, "I'm definitely not going on the DL; that's not going to happen."
"The team needs me," he said. "I don't think this is a 15-day thing; I think this is maybe one, two, three days."
But Kemp, who has struggled lately after being baseball's best hitter in April, acknowledged that "I just need to let it heal for a little bit. I don't know how much time that's going to take."
Had the hamstring affected his recent play? "I haven't been able to run the way I wanted to run and do some of the things I wanted to do, but definitely no excuses," he said.
In April, Kemp batted .417, slugged 12 home runs and had 25 runs batted in. But he's cooled considerably in May, batting .212 with no home runs and three RBIs.
Gordon sits one out
Dee Gordon was not in the starting lineup Sunday partly because the young shortstop continues to struggle at the plate.
But there are no plans to replace Gordon as the Dodgers' leadoff hitter and have him bat lower in the order even though he's hitting .211, with 27 hits and 25 strikeouts in 128 at-bats, Mattingly said. Gordon also has 12 stolen bases.
"Dropping Dee in the order sounds really easy, but then who do you want me to hit there?" Mattingly said. "There's my issue. I don't really have a leadoff guy [to replace him]. If I had an alternative I'd consider it a lot more."
Asked whether he thinks the 24-year-old Gordon was pressing, Mattingly replied, "Oh yeah, I do. For a young guy, it's not so easy to say, 'Just calm down, just slow down.'"
With his three-run homer Sunday, A.J. Ellis was batting .467 with five RBIs in the five games he's played in the homestand . . . As promised by new ownership, some Dodgers began greeting fans at Dodger Stadium's gates. Pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Aaron Harang were among those doing so Sunday.