Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp autographs a fan's shirt before… (Reed Saxon / Associated…)
As the Dodgers enjoy the best stretch of any major league team in 62 years, Matt Kemp is on the disabled list for the third time this season. The Dodgers are not sure when he might return, but Kemp said he would fit in perfectly fine when he does.
"I don't need to fit in anywhere," Kemp said Wednesday. "My job is to play center field.
"Do you think I'm going to come in and mess up the chemistry? The only thing I'm going to do is make the team better. I'm not going to make the team worse."
The Dodgers are 30-29 when Kemp starts, 39-21 when he does not. He is batting .263, with a .319 on-base percentage and five home runs in 62 games.
As the Dodgers succeed with Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig as starting outfielders, Kemp said there is plenty of room for him to contribute.
"I'd rather have four great outfielders than two great outfielders or three great outfielders," Kemp said. "If one person is struggling a little bit, you've still got somebody who can come in and produce."
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly agreed, saying Kemp's return would enable him to keep all four outfielders fresh and use the most favorable matchups in the starting lineup.
Mattingly said the idea that Kemp should stay on the bench because the Dodgers were winning with the current roster made no more sense than saying Nick Punto should remain at shortstop over Hanley Ramirez, who started Wednesday for the first time since jamming a shoulder Aug. 4.
"No," Mattingly said. "You put Hanley back in there."
Mattingly said Friday that he estimated Kemp would return from a sprained ankle in 10 to 14 days. That would be four to eight days now, and Mattingly conceded his timetable might be too optimistic.
"I'm keeping my track record good," Mattingly joked. "I'm missing another one."
It is possible the Dodgers will wait to activate Kemp when rosters expand Sept. 1.
When the Dodgers acquired pitcher Ricky Nolasco from the Miami Marlins, Nolasco went from the team with the lowest attendance in the major leagues to the one with the highest. The Dodgers are the hottest team in the majors, and they lead the league in road attendance, but the Marlins sold $1 tickets for the Dodgers' game in Miami on Tuesday.
Nolasco said attendance has been hurt by the Marlins' build-it-up and tear-it-down philosophy.
"The fans are tired of stuff like that," Nolasco said. "It's not a baseball town, obviously. There's so much stuff to do. At the same time, if they start winning, people will come. You know how it is. But, when they lose, it's worse than most places."
The Marlins' average attendance is 18,181. Nolasco said he appreciates the chance to play for the Dodgers, and their average of 45,386 before Wednesday.
Reliever Brian Wilson, who has made three minor league appearances, could join the Dodgers Friday. Mattingly indicated the Dodgers believe Wilson is ready for the major leagues but have not finalized how to create a roster spot for him. … Ethier could return to the starting lineup Friday. Doctors ruled out a blood clot in what Mattingly called a "throbbing" left calf. However, Mattingly said doctors did diagnose and treat internal bleeding near where Ethier was hit by a pitch Aug. 4.