Don Mattingly optimistic Matt Kemp will play again this season

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers center fielder, who hasn't played since July 21, hit four home runs in 10 at-bats in simulated game situations at the Dodgers' training facility at Camelback Ranch in Arizona.

LOS ANGELES -- Matt Kemp continued his rehab in Arizona on Tuesday, and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly sounded optimistic about his center fielder, telling reporters before the game with the Diamondbacks that he thinks Kemp will play again this season.

"I think everybody is pretty positive that he is on a pretty good track, as far as what he's been able to do," Mattingly said. "He's been tested without being able to run."

Kemp has been sidelined since July 21 with a sprained left ankle, but his rehab was shut down last week with tightness in his right hamstring, an aggravation of an injury that caused Kemp to miss 24 games in May and June. Mattingly said he was 6-for-10 with four home runs playing in simulated game situations at the Dodgers' facility at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz. on Tuesday.

"Right now it's pretty positive," Mattingly said. "I could use him to pinch hit, but then I'd have to pinch run for him. It would be nice if he could run."

But Mattingly has been optimistic plenty of times this season to no avail, notably predicting no disabled list time for before all three of Kemp's DL stints this season. But this situation is different, as Mattingly has discussed Kemp with the medical staff and has had time to process the information, unlike the immediacy of a postgame media session.

"I'm telling you what [the training staff] told me," Mattingly said. "If you ask me like 20 minutes after he gets hurt, he'll be great. What do you want me to say?  You want an answer that I don't have an answer for."

Mattingly reiterated that Kemp hasn't resumed running and is still likely a week or so away from returning to the Dodgers. But Mattingly was optimistic that Kemp would be able to return for some regular season games in preparation for the postseason.

"I don't know if I have a minimum [games Kemp needs to play]," Mattingly said. "It's hard to judge off two (simulated) games. It would be nice to be able to see 10-12 games."

The Dodgers end their regular season on Sunday, Sept. 29 at home against the Rockies. They have 18 regular season games remaining after Tuesday night.

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