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Dodgers' other kind of relief: Matt Kemp finishes spring strong

March 31, 2013|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Matt Kemp has looked healthy again and ready for the season.
Matt Kemp has looked healthy again and ready for the season. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated…)

The Freeway Series had to be reassuring for anyone concerned over Matt Kemp’s full return from off-season shoulder surgery.

Understandably, he had been a tad timid earlier this spring, the surgery seemingly in the back of his mind, each hard swing something of a test. The Dodgers held him back a few games and then he got off to a slow start, hitting just .186 when the Dodgers broke camp in Arizona.

But in the three games against the Angels, Kemp looked a lot like they guy who came in second in the 2011 MVP voting. He went 5 for 9 with three RBI, including a triple and a double. His swing looked crisp and powerful.

Manager Don Mattingly said he did not think there were any hurdles remaining, physically or mentally, with Kemp and his shoulder. And Mattingly said it on the eve of the Freeway Series.

“I don’t think so,” Mattingly said. “It’s been awhile since we even talked about his shoulder. Early on, I talked to him and he was feeling uncomfortable and just a little scared, but as the camp went on it was just like it seemed you just kind of seen his swing and bat speed get better and better.

“There’s really been no kind of talk about his shoulder, as far as needing extra treatment. Just kind of maintenance stuff. For me, Matt is over it and he’s ready to roll and just go play.”

Kemp was cryptic, but gave the shoulder a positive review.

“It’s good,” Kemp said. “I don’t think about it all.”

Kemp finished the spring batting .250 with only one home run and nine runs batted in. Of course, last spring he was healthy and hit .262 with two homers, and then went out and hit .417 with 12 home runs and 25 RBIs in April.

Kemp doesn’t have to look like the best player in baseball this April, as he did to start last year, but with Hanley Ramirez out the opening third of the season, for the Dodgers to be the team they believe they can be, they need Kemp somewhere in the neighborhood.

And right now, he appears on course.


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