The Dodgers dropped their second straight game on Monday night, a 6-3 defeat to the Padres on Jackie Robinson Night at Dodger Stadium. But Matt Kemp showed signs of possibly coming out of his slump before before and during the game.
Kemp went 2-for-5 with a double in the game, his sixth straight Jackie Robinson Day with at least one hit, and flew out to the right field warning track to end the game in the ninth inning, something MLB.tv users didn't see as the transmission cut off just before the final at-bat.
"He gets a couple of hits today," said manager Don Mattingly after the game. "That last ball, he hits that ball well. In a lot of ballparks it's gone, if it's daytime it's gone. It's not gone tonight."
Kemp on the season is hitting just .196/.236/.275, with no home runs in 55 plate appearances. In 2012, for comparison, Kemp had seven home runs in his first 55 plate appearances. Before Monday's game, Kemp took extra batting practice with both Mattingly and hitting coach Mark McGwire there to observe.
Mattingly believes Kemp is fully recovered from offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in Kemp's left shoulder, one that prevented him from swinging a bat until January.
"I'm convinced he's healthy right now," Mattingly said. "I don't think Matt feels unhealthy. I don't think it's keeping him from doing anything. We watch his BPs and his swings, and they're good. I think he's healthy.
"Maybe I should be a little more worried about bad habits in a sense, but I'm not really seeing that. I'm seeing more of simple things like you would if anyone else was struggling: Not backing the ball up, not getting himself strikes, pressing a little bit. When you have a little bit of a rough start, you want to get going. The human nature side of that is that you're pushing yourself to get moving."
Kemp is showing small signs of improving, with three doubles in his last eight games, hitting .273 (9-for-33) during that span. In his career on Apr. 15, he is hitting .462/.481/.846 in six games.
"Just seeing (Jackie Robinson) in the Dodgers jersey, then knowing I get to wear that same jersey every single day. That's special," Kemp said before the game.
Might Kemp's second multi-hit game of the season be a harbinger of good things for the Dodgers?
"Matt looked okay. I think he's coming," said Mattingly. "He's not a guy I'm worried about in the long run."
- Mattingly reiterated his faith in the offense as a whole, which has a .343 on-base percentage yet is scoring just 2.85 runs per game. "We've been getting plenty of hits, and getting plenty of guys out on the bases. But we just haven't been effective once we get them out there," Mattingly said. "I've said it and I'll keep saying it, if we get that much traffic we're going to score a bunch of runs."
- Ted Lilly's rehab start on Tuesday night will be with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, a road contest in Lake Elsinore.
Mark Ellis last played third base in 2002 with the Athletics in his rookie year. He played the position again Monday night for two batters in the ninth inning, then moved back to second base in another double switch. Ellis, who played third base for two of his years at the University of Florida, was surprised by the move but adapted quickly. "That caught me off guard a little but, but I totally understand. I knew if we needed to do it, it wouldn't be for very long," Ellis said. "Besides, I'm a baseball player."
- Josh Wall got word of his call-up to the Dodgers while in Iowa with the Triple-A Isotopes, in "the third or fourth inning' of their 10:05 a.m. PT game. "I didn't shower or anything. I just changed and went straight to the airport," said Wall, who arrived at Dodger Stadium around 8 p.m. PT. A little over two hours later, he was pitching in the ninth inning against the Padres.
- Harrison Ford, who plays Branch Rickey in the movie '42,' threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Monday night, but he bounced it. "He said his kids will be all over him for that," Mattingly said.
Chris Capuano makes his first start of 2013, facing off against Jason Marquis in the middle game of the three-game series. The Dodgers will try to improve their 4-6 record against the National League West.