Matt Kemp went 0-for-2 with a groundout and a strikeout in his first appearance… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
Don’t forget now, it’s a process! Spring training, getting in shape, working on timing, pulling together as a team.
It’s the same refrain every year, but at least the Dodgers had to feel they were making some small forward movement in their spring route Friday when Matt Kemp made his first appearance in a game.
On the same day the Dodgers learned outfielder Carl Crawford was being shut down for at least a week and may not be ready by opening day, Kemp played in his first game since undergoing off-season shoulder surgery.
There was nothing notable about it, other than he made it into a game and reported no shoulder difficulty. Appearing as the designated hitter, Kemp went 0-for-2, grounding out in his first at-bat and getting called out on strikes in his second.
How did it feel to finally swing a bat in a game?
“Weird,” Kemp said. “Naw, I was excited. I felt a little jumpy. But it’s just like any old other first spring training game. You want to get all that excitement. Just go out there, relax and have fun.”
On a day the Dodgers lost a pair of exhibition games – losing 16-8 to the Angels in Tempe, Ariz., and at home in Phoenix against the Padres 7-5 – Kemp said he was encouraged by the way his shoulder responded.
“It will get better and better as the at-bats go,” he said. “I fouled off a changeup that [Freddy] Garcia threw me, and last year that would have left my shoulder hurting a little bit and that didn’t hurt. So those are really good signs that my shoulder is stronger and I’m responding well to the rehab and everything I’ve done throughout the off-season to get it better.”
That process was a little rougher for a pair of new starters for the rotation. Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu each made their second starts of the spring, and each struggled.
Ryu started against the Angels and gave up two runs on four hits and a walk in two innings. He struck out three but gave up a two-run homer to Josh Hamilton on a 3-2 pitch in the first.
Greinke went three innings at Camelback, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk. The damage could have been worse, but he got out of deep trouble in the first and third innings when he was supported by double plays.
Offensively at Camelback, Hanley Ramirez went 2-for-3 and scored when he stole home on the back end of a double-steal.
At Tempe, Luis Cruz continued his hot start, going 3-for-3 and doubling twice to drive in a pair of runs. Prospect Yasiel Puig also drove in a pair of runs, and showed off an impressive arm, throwing out Luis Jimenez trying to go from first to third from right field.
Non-roster invitee Matt Palmer had an afternoon to forget. He was charged with seven runs on five hits and two walks in just two-thirds of an inning.
Friday also made for a rough debut for former No. 1 pick Zach Lee, who was charged with the Camelback loss when he gave up a pair of runs in the ninth. The first run scored on a balk.