LOS ANGELES -- Just when it looked like the Dodgers were getting reasonably close to full strength for the playoffs, they were dealt a crushing blow on Sunday as Matt Kemp is out for the remainder of the postseason after an MRI showed swelling around the talus bone in his left ankle.
"The MRI scan indicated swelling in one of the major weight-bearing bones of the ankle. Since that is an area that can be vulnerable with impact and injury, we have to protect Matt," said team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache. "That indicates a weakness of the bone and we'll have to protect his weight bearing."
Kemp will be on crutches for about a month in an effort to keep weight off the ankle. Dr. ElAttrache said major surgery was unlikely on Kemp's ankle unless there was a fracture, though a minor arthroscopic procedure might be needed for some cleanup.
Kemp first sprained the ankle on July 21 in Washington D.C. against the Nationals and missed 52 games on the disabled list. After coming back on Sept. 16 Kemp hit .314/.385/.486 with three doubles and a home run in 11 games, including nine starts, but he was a late scratch from Saturday's lineup after feeling soreness in the ankle.
That soreness was first chalked up to playing nearly every day after several weeks off, but Kemp's pain increased Saturday night and he still felt stiffness on Sunday morning. New X-rays were taken, which showed no damage, but the MRI on Sunday revealed the bad news.
"We basically wanted to make sure that we were going to let him play with pain," Dr. ElAttrache said. "There were a few things that we looked for that we absolutely wouldn't let him play with, and this was one of those things."
Previous X-rays and MRI exams didn't show the swelling, though Dr. ElAttrache estimated it could have been building over these last few weeks on a microscopic level.
Kemp found out the results "in the third or fourth inning" of Sunday's game.
"I have to get my legs under me. I haven't had my legs under me in a while," Kemp said. "It's going to be a pretty busy offseason for me."
That busy offseason also includes a cleanup procedure on his left shoulder, but not in the same spot he had surgery last year. This year's shoulder surgery will deal with progressive arthritis in the AC joint, the same area that Kemp hurt on July 5 in San Francisco, and the cause of the second of his three stints on the disabled list this season.
The surgery hasn't yet been scheduled, but will require six weeks of recovery before Kemp can resume baseball activities. Stop me if you have heard this before, but Kemp after these procedures and rest is expected to be ready for spring training.
But that's what the message was heading into 2013, and Kemp ended up hitting .270/.328/.395 with six home runs in just 73 games.
Manager Don Mattingly didn't find out that Kemp was out for the playoffs until after Sunday's game finished.
"Honestly two weeks ago I didn't think Matt was going to make the playoffs. Then all of a sudden Matt could make it back, and it looked like a definite and he looked good," Mattingly said. "Now, he can't again. At this point there is nothing to do about it but move on.
"I don't think anybody out there in that room is willing to give this thing up because Matt is hurt. Without saying this in a bad way, we played all year long without Matt. We went 42-8 without Matt. We're capable of winning. We're not going to rollover. Obviously if you don't have Andre and you don't have Matt you're not as good as you could be. But we're still good enough to win."