Matt Kemp continued his struggles on Monday night. As the Dodgers picked up their most thrilling and perhaps most unlikely victory of the season, a comeback 8-7 win over the Angels, Kemp went 0-for-5 and struck out in his final four plate appearances.
Kemp is now hitting just .253/.304/.333 on the season with two home runs in 49 games, and manager Don Mattingly can see the frustration.
"He's not really guys where confidence leaves him, but that doesn't mean it doesn't get chipped away," Mattingly said. "It's been an extended period of time, so I think the confidence has chipped away a little bit."
Kemp's poor start has been a combination of recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, making adjustments, and falling into bad habits. But Mattingly thinks Kemp is getting closer to returning to form, or at least he did prior to Monday's 0-for-5.
"They told me the other day that he'll be able to do some weight training. That's going to be something that helps him. More than anything it tells me the shoulder is healthy," Mattingly said. "The biggest thing with Matt is, I'm not sure about the shoulder, if we've got some bad habits, fighting them still. As much as anything it's pitch selection. When you're swinging at bad balls, I don't care how good you are. Swinging at balls out of the strike zone will hurt you."
After the game, Mattingly was asked if he would consider moving Kemp down in the batting order while struggling. Kemp has started 28 games batting third, 17 games batting cleanup, and two more batting second.
"We're going to need Matt. We've seen that lesson over the years. I just don't give up on that. I'm not going to give up on Matt," Mattingly said. "Matt's going to get going. At certain times I will hit him in different spots trying to take a little pressure off of him and things like that. That's another day."
Kemp is now hitless in his last 12 at-bats with eight strikeouts, and in his last 10 games is 5-for-37 (.135) with 19 strikeouts and three walks. But Mattingly thinks Kemp can turn it around and regain his confidence at the plate.
"I know the confidence doesn't just show up, but it doesn't take much," Mattingly said. "One good day, if all of a sudden he drives a couple of balls to right center, hits a ball to left center and gets that feel, that one day can get you on that path. There it is."