Matt Kemp plays intrasquad game, getting closer to game action

Craig Minami

The Dodgers center fielder is getting closer and closer to returning to his first game action since October surgery on his left ankle.

GLENDALE -- Matt Kemp went 0-for-7 in an intrasquad game on the minor league side of Dodgers camp at Camelback Ranch on Sunday, but more importantly took another step closer to returning to the field in game action.

Kemp was the designated hitter and batted for both teams, hitting second each half inning, and was restricted to only running down the line to first base. It was essentially the same as he has been doing during batting practice for the last week or so, but in a more competitive capacity.

"It's really what he's doing now but it looks a lot more like a game," manager Don Mattingly said before Kemp's simulated game.

"My body hasn’t said I’m ready," Kemp said after the game. "Hitting-wise, my body tells me I am definitely ready but running-wise, it's not where it needs to be but I am out there running so that’s a good sign. It has been a while, five or six months now."

Kemp struck out twice, lined out, popped out, grounded out, flew out to right field, and grounded into a double play in his seven at-bats, against pitchers Raydel Sanchez, Daniel Moskos, Steve Smith and Josh Ravin.

Dodgers director of medical services Stan Conte said Kemp progressed to Stage 6 (of seven), and that the final phase would involve sliding.

"Sliding is going to come with playing in the games," Kemp said. "You can’t really go out there and simulate that."

Kemp said he wasn't sure when he would play in games, but that he would be patient.

"Right now I don’t feel as strong as I should feel and that’s the way its going to be," Kemp said. "But there is going come a time, when I make a move or do something and my body will tell me when I am ready."

Thanks to Craig Minami for contributing greatly to this article.

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