LOS ANGELES -- Matt Kemp sits for a fourth game as the Dodgers open a series on Monday night against the Reds. Kemp, whose poor play defensively in center field was acknowledged by manager Don Mattingly last week on the road trip, becomes the first of the Dodgers outfield quartet to not start for four consecutive games this season.
That Kemp is still sitting after a weekend essentially off in Philadelphia - one pinch-hit appearance in three days - is a little surprising especially on Monday since he is 6-for-12 with two home runs and two walks against Reds starter Johnny Cueto.
Kemp has so far taken the high road during this benching, saying he's willing to do what's best for the team. Even the infamous quarrel with Joe Torre, Bob Schaeffer and Larry Bowa resulted in Kemp not starting only three straight games, from June 27-29, 2010, but Kemp ended up appearing in all three as a reserve.
"In my opinion, not playing for four straight days is a little harsh," said Dave Stewart, Kemp's agent. "You can't blame him for every time that they've lost."
Kemp is hitting .264/.327/.453 with five home runs and 13 doubles in 42 games, including .338/.377/.462 in his last 18 games. Stewart feels that, like with Kemp's hitting, his defense would improve with more playing time, and that he has earned the playing time.
"Two years ago this guy ran into a wall, literally, for the ball club. He came back and injured his hamstrings, then his ankle," Stewart said. "They feel that he's missing a step. When I played, when you give 100 percent and get hurt you have the right to come back and play your position."
Stewart said Kemp is a natural center fielder, but would play left field if the team asked.
"It's their ballclub, they have a right to do what they want. Matt's willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win," Stewart said. "He's a player who has a lot to contribute to a winning ballclub."
Kemp isn't the only one sitting. Hanley Ramirez is out for a fourth straight game with Erisbel Arruebarrena getting another start at shortstop. A.J. Ellis sprained his right ankle during the no-hitter celebration on Sunday, and was placed on the disabled list Monday (more on that soon). Drew Butera starts behind the plate on Monday, withTim Federowicz up from Triple-A Albuquerque.