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Dodgers hope Matt Kemp's four-strikeout rehab debut not an omen

June 23, 2013|By Bill Shaikin
  • In Matt Kemp's first rehabilitation start with triple-A Albuquerque, the Dodgers center fielder went hitless in five at-bats with four strikeouts.
In Matt Kemp's first rehabilitation start with triple-A Albuquerque,… (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated…)

SAN DIEGO — The hamstring injury that put Matt Kemp on the disabled list appears healed. The poor hitting that preceded the stint on the disabled list? The Dodgers are keeping their fingers crossed.

Kemp went hitless in five at-bats — with four strikeouts — in his first rehabilitation game with triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday. In 51 games with the Dodgers, Kemp is batting .251 with two home runs and 60 strikeouts — a total that still leads the team even though he has not played in the major leagues since May 29.

Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said Kemp had tried a new pair of contact lenses in Saturday's game, which might have contributed to the strikeouts. Mattingly said he was "not really" concerned about the statistics from Kemp's first competitive game in almost a month, but he said the Dodgers would consider extending Kemp's rehabilitation assignment beyond the planned three or four games if the strikeouts continue.

"Is the timing for him back, at game speed? It doesn't seem like it's back yet," Mattingly said. "If it's two or three or four games, or five or six, to get his timing back, that's what you need out of the rehab.

"We don't want to put Matt back in the lineup if he's not really ready."

Kemp has struggled to recover his power after shoulder surgery last October. The Dodgers' medical staff cleared Kemp for an increased weightlifting load last month, and Mattingly said Kemp flashed his vintage power during batting practice here Friday.

"He was back to the old Matt in batting practice, when the ball really carried," Mattingly said.

Mattingly said he did not want to make too much of batting practice, except that the balls had traveled differently off Kemp's bat.

"When he's going good, he's hitting a lot of balls high," Mattingly said. "They were Matt's type of power."

Kemp did appear sufficiently recovered from the hamstring injury, since he attempted a stolen base and scored from second base on a single in Saturday's rehabilitation game.

"The running part was really good," Mattingly said.

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