Matt Kemp won't start Sunday, Dodgers concerned, cautious

Lisa Blumenfeld

With Sunday's regular season finale essentially an exhibition game before the playoffs with nothing at stake, the Dodgers are playing it safe with center fielder Matt Kemp and his sore left ankle.

LOS ANGELES -- Mat Kemp was a late scratch from the starting lineup on Saturday night against the Rockies, but both manager Don Mattingly and the center fielder downplayed the left ankle soreness that kept him out of the Dodgers' 1-0 loss to the Rockies at Dodger Stadium.

"I feel okay with it. He took BP. Just as he went to get loose for the game he was having trouble getting loose. I feel like we're being a little cautious," Mattingly said. "He has been playing a lot. We've been trying to give him as many at-bats as possible without going too far. Today, having trouble getting loose we didn't want to take any chances."

Kemp had played in all 11 games since getting activated on Sept. 16 before sitting Saturday, including six consecutive starts. He chalked it up to playing every day after missing nearly two full months, saying his left ankle was "just irritated."

But it is those 52 games missed with a sprained left ankle, suffered July 21 in Washington D.C., that have the Dodgers worried.

"I'm a little bit [concerned], just because of what we've been through," Mattingly said. "I don't know how much good it's going to do me to be all nervous and worry about it. I feel like we're being cautious, and I feel like he's going to be ready to go."

Mattingly said Kemp won't start on Sunday in the regular season finale, hoping his 39 plate appearances over the last two weeks — during which Kemp hit .314/.385/.486 — will be enough to get him ready for the postseason.

"If he's not ready by now, he's not going to be. I wouldn't think there would be any reason to push him back out there tomorrow," Mattingly said. "I don't think he's running at full speed. We're not going to get the 40-bags type of guy. It's just not there at this point. We're not going to be that, but he's still pretty good. He's shown he can do a lot of things."

In other resting outfielder news, both Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig are expected to start Sunday. Crawford got a regular old day off on Saturday after starting six straight games, and Puig was begging Mattingly to play on Saturday once Kemp was scratched.

Up next

The Dodgers close out their regular season on Sunday afternoon, sending out Hyun-Jin Ryu for likely a five-inning start in the series finale against the Rockies. Jeff Francis gets the call for Colorado.

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