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Dodgers' Matt Kemp isn't holding up as well as he used to

The center fielder is on the disabled list for the third time since signing an eight-year contract after the 2011 season. Kemp had played 365 consecutive games before the deal.

June 01, 2013|By Bill Shaikin
  • Dodgers' Matt Kemp comes out of the game with Dodgers assistant trainer Nancy Patterson in the seventh inning against the Angels.
Dodgers' Matt Kemp comes out of the game with Dodgers assistant trainer… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

Kemp, then and now

Beyond power and speed, Matt Kemp had durability. When the Dodgers signed him to an eight-year contract, Kemp had played in 365 consecutive games.

We are two months into the second year of that contract, and Kemp is on the disabled list for the third time. Derek Jeter appeared on the disabled list twice during his 10-year contract with the New York Yankees.

Kemp's hamstring injuries — the left one last year, the right one this year — might not have any lasting effect. But Adrian Gonzalez said he lost his power swing after shoulder surgery, and the early returns on Kemp are similarly discouraging.

Kemp hit 39 home runs in all of 2011, 12 in April last year, one in April and one in May this year. His .335 slugging percentage is the lowest of any regular outfielder in the National League West.

Perhaps Kemp can strengthen his shoulder while he rehabilitates his hamstring. If not, for the highest payroll in major league history, the Dodgers might have one man in the organization with the power to hit 30 home runs.

He is not in the major leagues, at least not as of Saturday. His name is Yasiel Puig.

A royal mess

The Kansas City Royals needed the good grace of an umpire to snap an eight-game losing streak. The Royals led the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-2, when the game was stopped by rain in the ninth inning, at 10:32 Thursday night.

The game resumed at 3:04 Friday morning and ended 10 minutes later. The teams were not scheduled to play again this season, so crew chief Joe West waited out the rain. The alternative would have been a suspended game, with the score reverting to what it was at the end of the last full inning.

That would have given the Cardinals the victory. The Royals had scored three times in the top of the ninth.

"Joe knew, A, we'd been struggling," Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur said, "and, B, when you come back and do that it's not fair to the team to just can the game and go back to the last inning."

The Royals, in a win-or-bust season, crashed into last place in the American League Central last week, losing 20 of their final 25 games in May. They fired their hitting coach and replaced him with franchise icon George Brett, and Manager Ned Yost could be the next to go.

After another loss last week, Yost snapped at the question of how he was holding players accountable.

"What are you asking me to do?" Yost asked, according to the Kansas City Star. "Take my belt off and spank them? Yell at them? Scream at them? What do you want?"

The Star put those choices — and others — to their readers in a poll. The most popular choice recommended to Yost: "Give up and resign."

Golden hope

The Dodgers' Hyun-Jin Ryu was the winning pitcher in the last Olympic baseball game ever played — in 2008, when South Korea beat Cuba to win the gold medal.

The International Olympic Committee last week selected wrestling, squash and baseball/softball as finalists for the one spot available for the 2020 Games. Wrestling is the favorite, with baseball a longshot unless the IOC backs off its demand for major leaguers — during the baseball season.

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