Matt Kemp rejoined the Dodgers on Monday at Chase Field, and the outfielder was activated before the four-game series against the Diamondbacks. Kemp took early batting practice and ran the bases under the scrutiny of director of medical services Stan Conte before the game, and proved healthy enough to play.
"We're going to see how BP goes, and see how he's moving in the outfield, then make a decision," manager Don Mattingly said before the Dodgers took batting practice.
Mattingly before the game, and before Kemp took outfield practice, said Kemp will be limited to pinch-hitting duty only, and likely will have to be replaced by a pinch hitter if he reaches base.
Kemp last played for the Dodgers on July 21 and was sidelined by a sprained ankle. His minor league rehab went terribly at first, as he was struggling to find his timing again at the plate. Kemp was 0-for-18 in five games with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga before moving his rehab to Camelback Ranch in Arizona, where he has batted in simulated game situations.
"I've gotten like 100 at-bats in the past week playing in Arizona," Kemp guessed.
But that rehab was slowed with tightness in his right hamstring, the same injury that caused Kemp to miss 24 games in May and June. Kemp said his hamstring feels fine now, but Mattingly was less sure. In a twist, Kemp seems ready at the plate but not in the field or on the bases.
"His swing looked really good. His running was not as good as we'd like. The straight running was really good, but as far as making a turn at second base he was really tentative," Mattingly said. "This is not really our call, it's more of a medical decision of what he can or can't do. We'll just have to see what he looks like in the outfield there a little bit, and see what we can live with."
Kemp has missed 87 of the Dodgers' 149 games this season, and has hit just .263/.319/.382 with five home runs.
"This season has been tough. It's been somewhat of a nightmare," Kemp said.."I haven't been healthy. Honestly I feel like I can help this team. These guys have been doing a great job without me. I feel like I can make this team even better, and that's all I'm trying to do, whatever role they have for me. I think I can give them four good at-bats and can do some things."
Kemp is hitting .324/.390/.622 with three home runs and 10 RBI in his last 11 games, but those 11 games have been the only games Kemp has played since May 29. But Kemp doesn't feel the need to prove his potential place on the postseason roster, which admittedly is a lock of he is ambulatory.
"I know I can make this team better than what they already are. I don't feel like I need to audition, I just need to go out there and play," Kemp said. "If they put me in the lineup I'm ready."
With Kemp's activation the Dodgers active roster has 36 players, an exceptionally high total especially for a contending team. Injuries are mostly the culprit here, as the Dodgers recalled five from Triple-A on Sept. 1 and Chris Withrow two days later.
"We didn't start with this many guys, it's just happened," Mattingly said. "It's not my favorite thing to be doing, but it's where we're at right now."
Time: 6:40 p.m.
TV: Prime Ticket