Matt Kemp went 0-for-5 for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in his first rehabilitation… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
Matt Kemp shrugged off the bad taste of going 0-for-5 in a Class-A game Thursday.
“I haven’t played in more than five weeks,” Kemp said after striking out, grounding into two double plays and hitting just one ball out of the infield -- a ninth-inning fly to center field that ended his Rancho Cucamonga Quakes’ loss against the High Desert Mavericks.
Kemp, returning to the field for the first time since spraining his left ankle in a home-plate collision against the Washington Nationals on July 21, is scheduled to play two more games for the Quakes through Saturday, then be positioned to rejoin the Dodgers when rosters expand Sunday.
“Everyone’s jumping the gun; let’s take this one day at a time,” Kemp said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
After serving as designated hitter Thursday, Kemp said he’ll start in center field Friday and play seven innings. A Dodger official said Kemp will play the entire game in center on Saturday barring any setback.
Regarding the ankle, Kemp trotted to first base while grounding into his first double play in the third inning. But in the seventh, he accelerated with more urgency before getting thrown out again on a double-play grounder to third base.
“I got down the line good,” Kemp said.
The 2011 National League MVP runner-up said before the game that he was more concerned about reestablishing his timing at the plate, more so than the ankle he tested while running the basepaths and in other drills at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Facing High Desert right-hander Stephen Landazuri, 21, a Rialto Carter High product, Kemp’s first two at-bats were hard grounders that second baseman Anthony Phillips fielded cleanly and converted to outs.
In the ninth, Kemp lined a pitch directly at the Mavericks’ center fielder.
He failed to knock in any of the six men who were on base during his at-bats, but said, “I hit some balls hard.”
With 3,642 in attendance, Kemp said he appreciated “hearing the crowd again,” and bought Quakes players a post-game meal, promising to do so again the next two nights.
When he hopes to start feasting on the minor-league pitching.