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Matt Kemp hitless for Rancho Cucamonga Quakes

Outfielder goes 0-for-5 with a strikeout in first game since spraining his left ankle on July 21.

August 30, 2013|By Lance Pugmire

Matt Kemp knew before the night began that he was in search of his timing at the plate.

So it's a good thing he has two more games to play for the Class-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes before he returns to the Dodgers.

The Dodgers outfielder was 0-for-5 Thursday night, grounding into two double plays and striking out while playing for the first time since he sprained his left ankle in a July 21 home-plate collision against the Washington Nationals.

Kemp said before the game that he was confident his ankle would endure the rigors of games again after testing it by running the basepaths Tuesday and running again Wednesday.

"The ankle's good," Kemp said before batting second for the Quakes as the team's designated hitter. "I just need to get some at-bats. That's why I'm here: Get your timing back."

Kemp trotted to first base while grounding out into his first double play in the third inning. But in the seventh, he accelerated faster before being thrown out again on a double-play grounder to third base.

"When it's feeling good like this, you know when you can play," Kemp said before the game, his T-shirt saturated in sweat after he further tested the ankle by running up and down ballpark steps.

Kemp is expected to play some in the outfield for the Quakes on Friday, then play a full game there Saturday before being in position to rejoin the Dodgers when rosters expand Sunday.

The 2011 National League MVP runner-up received a warm ovation from a Rancho Cucamonga crowd of 3,642 on $2-beer "Thirsty Thursday" night.

His official return started when he grounded out to second base, sending a hard one-hopper to High Desert Mavericks second baseman Anthony Phillips.

In the second at-bat, Kemp swung and missed a 76-mph curveball from right-hander Stephen Landazuri, 21, a Rialto Carter High product. He then took a close inside pitch for a ball before grounding out again.

He fouled a 2-2 pitch from Landazuri into the glove of High Desert catcher Steven Baron, stranding a teammate at third base.

With the Dodgers 28-8 in his absence, Kemp has said he anticipates returning to a starting outfield position even though Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig occupy those spots now.

"We're all eager to watch each other succeed," Kemp said. "It's been a fun season, and I'd like to be a part of even more fun deep into September."

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