Matt Kemp injury: Dodgers OF focused on opening day

USA Today Sports

The Dodgers' superstar center fielder, who had left shoulder surgery on Oct. 5, told reporters on Saturday that he's focused on getting ready for opening day, not necessarily spring training.

It looks like there will be plenty of playing time for Yasiel Puig and other Dodgers outfielders to go around during spring training. Matt Kemp, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, told reporters on Saturday that he is focused on being ready for opening day, and not necessarily for spring training.

"I can definitely tell my labrum is stronger, my shoulder is stronger from the rehab I'm doing," Kemp told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. "I'm sure when I come to Spring Training there will be some limits put on me for some things. I'm not trying to be 100 percent for the first game of Spring Training. I'm trying to be 100 percent for the first game of the season."

Kemp had surgery on Oct. 5 to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder as well as some minor debridement of his rotator cuff. He wasn't able to swing a bat until January.

Bill Shaikin in the Los Angeles Times noted that first baseman Adrian Gonzalez had a similar procedure in 2010, and has advised his teammate on the recovery period.

"Adrian said I'll be good by the season," Kemp told Shaikin. "Everybody is saying something different. Everybody's body heals differently. So hopefully I have that Adrian Peterson body, where you heal real fast. I feel really good right now."

But Kemp also added that he is not focused on playing in spring training, per Gurnick: "I'm hitting off the tee, no soft toss yet. I have my good days and bad days. It's still a little sore. But being ready for the season is all that matters."

Coupled with Carl Crawford recovering from August Tommy John surgery, the Dodgers will likely have plenty of outfield playing time to go around during spring training. Now it's just a matter of figuring out which players will see more time.

On the 40-man roster, aside from the three starters, are outfielders Puig, Alex Castellanos (who the club would like to see play second or third base), and Elian Herrera (more of a utility man). Other utility men on the 40-man roster who will see time in the outfield are Jerry Hairston Jr. and Skip Schumaker. Non-roster invitees Jeremy Moore and Tony Gwynn Jr. will get their share of playing time as well, and perhaps even Scott Van Slyke will too, though it remains to be seen if he gets invited to big league camp.

If the Dodgers add another outfielder, they will see time as well. But the point is that during spring training, getting Kemp, Crawford, and Andre Ethier together in the same outfield at the same time may be a rare occurrence.

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