Matt Kemp talks to hitting coach Mark McGwire during a spring training workout. (Paul Sancya / Associated…)
The Dodgers gave center fielder Matt Kemp his first day off this season, benching him for Wednesday's game. Kemp is batting .185 overall and .053 with runners in scoring position, with 17 strikeouts in 54 at-bats.
Manager Don Mattingly watched as Kemp took early batting practice for the second time in three days. Mattingly and Kemp each said the center fielder has no injury issues, with his surgically repaired shoulder or otherwise.
"There's nothing wrong with me," Kemp said. "Everything is fine. It's just hitting, man. I just need to hit. That's it."
Mattingly said Kemp would return to the lineup Friday. The Dodgers are off Thursday.
Skip Schumaker will start in center field, with Andre Ethier batting in Kemp's usual third spot in the batting order.
Mattingly said he decided to rest Kemp based on "body language" that the manager interpreted as a loss of confidence.
"I can see the frustration," Mattingly said.
That much was evident in Kemp's comments to a group of reporters.
"I don't make the lineup out. Donnie B did," Kemp said. "I respect him for it."
Kemp decided he had heard enough of the latest round of questions about why he might be off to such a slow start.
'You all keep asking the same questions over and over," he said.
Said Mattingly to the reporters: "I don't mind when he's mad at you. I just don't want him mad at me."
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