The Dodgers swept aside another opponent at Dodger Stadium on Sunday with their 11-5 win over the Colorado Rockies. But the story of the day was the left hamstring of Matt Kemp.
Kemp left the game after the third inning, when he grimaced while running down the line on his second ground out to shortstop. Upon reaching the dugout, manager Don Mattingly had assistant trainer Greg Harrel examine Kemp, who was about to take his position in center field for the top of the fourth inning.
"I said, 'Matt, if you feel anything at all, don't go out there,' and Matt turned around," Mattingly said. "That gave me the answer right there."
Kemp has had hamstring issues for the last week, after feeling tightness in his left hamstring last Sunday in Chicago.
"I haven't been able to run the way I want to run. It's a little bit of everything," Kemp said. "You need your legs to hit. Maybe some of those balls I hit to warning track would have had a little bit more power if I had all my legs."
Kemp threw his glove in frustration after he was taken out of the game, but he said he wasn't mad at Mattingly for taking him out, but rather because he has been limited while dealing with the hamstring tightness. Kemp was 4-for-19 this week, which includes a current 0-for-14 slump.
"I'm just frustrated. I haven't been able to play like I want to play. It's been a little bit scary because I didn't know how my hamstring would hold up," Kemp said. "I think I just need to let it heal for a little bit. I don't know how much time that's going to take, but we'll see."
Kemp has an MRI exam scheduled for Monday morning, and the team will know more then. Mattingly seemed to think Kemp would be out for at least a day, but they will await results of the MRI before deciding how to proceed.
"You can survive without your top guys temporarily, but you just can't do it long term," said Mattingly.
Kemp believes his time off, if any, will be very temporary.
"I'm definitely not going on the DL. That's not happening," Kemp said. "This team needs me."
Ellis Comes Through
Catcher A.J. Ellis continued his remarkable start to the season on Sunday. Hitting sixth for the first time in his career, Ellis was 2-for-4 with his third home run of the season, and a career-high four runs batted in. Seeing his name so high on the lineup card made for some barbs in the clubhouse before the game.
"It's a little far north for my tastes," Ellis said. "We had [third base coach] Tim Wallach running around the clubhouse saying, 'What's going on with the lineup? We have Ellis sixth. Are we trying today?' just giving me a hard time."
Ellis hit the home run, a three-run shot that capped a six-run fifth inning, off fellow Austin Peay grad Matt Reynolds.
Given that the topic of Ellis batting higher in the lineup was broached in pregame conversation, what does Ellis himself think about moving up from eighth in the batting order?
"It's not even on my radar. I like the challenge of hitting eighth, toward the bottom, and what that brings, turning the lineup over," Ellis said. "At the same time wherever Donnie hits me I'm going to be the same guy. I'm not going to change my approach or my at-bats depending where I hit in the lineup."
The Dodgers, who are 12-4 against National League West teams this season, welcome divisional foe Arizona to Los Angeles for a brief two-game series. Monday features a 2011 National League Cy Young Award tournament quarterfinal matchup, with No. 1 seed Clayton Kershaw pitching for the Dodgers and No. 4 seed Ian Kennedy starting for the Diamondbacks.