Matt Kemp's nightmare 2013 season took a turn for the worse on Wednesday night as the center fielder suffered a mild strain of his right hamstring in the Dodgers' 4-3 loss to the Angels in Anaheim. Kemp will have an MRI exam on Thursday to determine the severity of the injury.
Kemp suffered the injury in the seventh inning chasing down Mike Trout's leadoff double.
"He felt it going into that gap. He kind of pulled up and knew out there," manager Don Mattingly said. "He couldn't go harder, and didn't want to make it worse."
Kemp remained in the game for two more batters but then was removed on a double switch after talking with trainer Nancy Patterson Flynn. Kemp first told right fielder Andre Ethier.
"Two years ago I probably would have stayed in the game, but 'Dre told me to be safe," Kemp said. "Maybe I'll miss a couple of days or whatever, and not miss a month like I did last year."
Kemp strained his left hamstring in 2012, twice. The pair of injuries sidelined him for 51 of 53 games leading into the All-Star break.
"It's not as bad as last year, but I could feel it grab," Kemp said. "When it feels like that you have to take it easy because it could get worse."
It is unknown until the MRI results whether or not Kemp will need to be placed on the disabled list, but Mattingly guessed he might be without his center fielder for a little while.
"I shouldn't say it, but any time you get a strained hamstring it's usualy a DL stint," Mattingly said. "Stan (Conte, director of medical services) did say it was mild, and hopefully he caught himself. We'll see."
Kemp, who went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts on Wednesday and is hitting .251/.305/.335 with two home runs in 51 games, wasn't sure whether or not he would land on the DL.
"We'll see tomorrow, and go from there," Kemp said. "I'll have to take it day by day and see how it feels."
If the Dodgers do have to place Kemp on the disabled list, they would be sorely lacking in center fielders. Skip Schumaker is the backup center fielder on the roster, but not an every day option. Mattingly would also prefer to keep Carl Crawford in left field. In Triple-A the Dodgers have non-roster choices Tony Gwynn Jr. and Alfredo Amezaga, or utility man Elian Herrera, who is on the 40-man roster, but none of those are intriguing or compelling enough to add much to the Dodgers.
"Obviously we'll need a guy who can play center," Mattingly said.
If choosing from the hot prospect duo of 21-year-old Joc Pederson (.313/.393/.516, eight homers, 15 steals) or 22-year-old Yasiel Puig (.309/.386/.590, eight homers, 11 steals) in Double-A, Pederson is the one who has played 44 games in center field for Chattanooga. Pederson, unlike Puig, is not on the 40-man roster, but the Dodgers could move Shawn Tolleson to the 60-day disabled list to make room.
Would the Dodgers make such a move? Desperate times call for desperate measures, but let's see how Kemp's MRI turns out first.
The Dodgers conclude the Freeway Series on Thursday with a battle of left-handed pitchers, as Ted Lilly faces off with Jason Vargas.