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Dodgers' Matt Kemp has surgery; team signs Cuban defector

Center fielder has an operation to clean up sprained left ankle. Cuban second baseman Alexander Guerrero gets $28-million, four-year deal.

October 21, 2013|By Dylan Hernandez
  • The Dodgers hope outfielder Matt Kemp, who underwent surgery Monday on his sprained left ankle, will be ready in time for opening day.
The Dodgers hope outfielder Matt Kemp, who underwent surgery Monday on… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

Matt Kemp will spend his second consecutive off-season recovering from surgery.

Kemp underwent an operation Monday to clean up his sprained left ankle, a procedure that will prevent him from running for at least the next two months.

The Dodgers are hopeful Kemp will be ready to play on opening day, but if he isn't, are thinking their latest high-priced addition could help offset Kemp's absence.

Earlier in the day, the Dodgers signed Cuban defector Alexander Guerrero to a four-year, $28-million contract.

Guerrero, 26, projects to be a second baseman and offensive threat.

General Manager Ned Colletti said that Bob Engle, the Dodgers' international scouting chief, "thinks that [Guerrero] can play if not right away, very, very soon thereafter."

Guerrero's contract reflects his promise. After the first year of the deal, the Dodgers can't send Guerrero to the minor leagues without his consent, according to people familiar with the terms of the contract who spoke under the condition of anonymity because it hasn't been formally announced.

The Dodgers also can't offer Guerrero salary arbitration when his contract expires, meaning he will become a free agent after four years at age 30. Without a special clause in his contract, Guerrero would have had to accrue six full years of major league service time to become eligible for free agency.

Guerrero can earn an additional $4 million in bonuses over the lifetime of the contract. The bonuses are based on plate appearances.

Colletti said he wanted Guerrero to play winter ball in Latin America, which would give the Dodgers a gauge of how far he is from being ready for the major leagues.

Although Guerrero's signing takes the Dodgers out of the running for impending free agent Robinson Cano, it doesn't necessary rule out the return of Mark Ellis. The Dodgers have a $5.75-million team option on Ellis for 2014.

"I think Mark Ellis still has value to this organization, with or without Guerrero," Colletti said.

As for Kemp, the surgery was his second this month.

Kemp underwent a procedure to clean up his left shoulder less than two weeks ago. The shoulder was the same one on which he underwent major surgery last year.

The operation Monday, performed in North Carolina by ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson, was designed primarily to remove cartilage flaps.

Kemp sprained the ankle in a plate collision July 21 on a play on which he admitted to not running hard. The injury prevented Kemp from participating in the postseason, as the Dodgers' medical staff feared he could break his weight-bearing talus bone in his foot if he continued playing.

Kemp's talus bone is still healing. Kemp is expected to undergo another MRI exam in a couple of months to determine if more surgery is necessary.

Kemp can't put any weight on his foot for the next month. In the month after that, he will be in a walking boot. The Dodgers won't have a timeline for his return until he removes the boot and starts running.

Kemp's agent, Dave Stewart, said Kemp will still be able to strengthen his upper body and core, something he couldn't do last off-season. Kemp will also be on a program to strengthen his problematic hamstrings.

"We're anticipating he'll be ready for the season," Stewart said.

Kemp played in only 73 games this season. The two-time All-Star batted .270 with six home runs and 33 runs batted in.

Before Stewart revealed Kemp had surgery, Colletti was asked whether any of the Dodgers players were scheduled for surgery. Colletti said there weren't. Colletti later said he forgot about Kemp's procedure.

Changes are made to training staff

Sue Falsone resigned as Dodgers trainer to pursue other opportunities. The decision to part ways was Falsone's and not the Dodgers', according to a person familiar with the situation.

Falsone became the first female head athletic trainer for a major American sports franchise in November 2011. The Dodgers will still have a woman on the training staff next season, as assistant Nancy Patterson Flynn is expected to return. Greg Harrel, the other assistant trainer, is also expected back.

However, strength and conditioning coach Stephen Downey won't be back with the major league club.

Twitter: @dylanohernandez

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