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Dodgers Welcome Back Matt Kemp

The waiting is the hardest part.
The waiting is the hardest part.

The Dodgers get a mighty large boost to their lineup on Tuesday night as center fielder Matt Kemp is back from the disabled list after missing 15 days with a strained left hamstring, an apparently contagious injury in the Dodgers clubhouse. Kemp is in tonight's starting lineup, batting third.

To make room for Kemp on the active roster, the Dodgers optioned Jerry Sands back to Triple A Albuquerque. Sands was 4-for-20 with two doubles in his third stint in the major leagues.

Kemp hit a pair of home runs and was 5-for-7 in his two minor league rehab games in Albuquerque, and looks to return to the form that saw him win National League Player of the Month honors in April. Kemp hit 12 home runs in 23 games in April to set a new Dodgers franchise record for the month, but had no home runs in 11 games in May.

Kemp initially felt tightness in his left hamstring on May 6 in Chicago and was scratched from the starting lineup at Wrigley Field. Kemp was 4-for-20 with a double and three walks in seven games between then and May 13, when Kemp felt something again in his hamstring against Colorado. Kemp went on the disabled list the next day mired in an 0-for-14 slump.

The Dodgers actually acquitted themselves quite well without Kemp, going 9-5 without their superstar. The Dodgers averaged 4.57 runs per game and hit .292/.351/.420 while Kemp was away, after hitting .262/.340/.407 and scoring 4.44 runs per game with Kemp.

Tony Gwynn Jr. started 12 of the 14 games in center field and hit .304/.316/.357 with six runs scored and eight RBI.