LOS ANGELES -- From the moment Matt Kemp was traded in December we knew which date to circle on the calendar, but that didn't make his opening day return to Dodger Stadium any less weird.
We were used to Kemp and Clayton Kershaw appearing together on the cover of media guides, not 60 feet, six inches apart facing each other. Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis, who like Kemp was drafted in 2003 and played with Kemp since rookie ball, had a new viewpoint on Monday.
"I had no idea where he even stood in the box," Ellis said.
But before old friend Kemp was in the box, there was the matter of his introduction, and there were two opportunities on opening day. First was the pregame intro, during which Kemp received a nice ovation.
But the big moment came in the first inning, before Kemp's first at-bat. There were some boos, which were understandable as Kemp is now on another team, but the cheers were loud, and only got louder. Disturbingly, this video is not yet embeddable from MLB, but you can watch here.
It made for an even more special moment, as the cheers accepted the challenge from the boos and got even more forceful, producing an even more powerful ovation for Kemp. Kershaw even stepped off the mound briefly to let the moment grow.
"It was a good feeling to see the recognition he got in his first at-bat. He meant so much to this franchise. I'm proud of Dodgers fans," Ellis said. "He deserved to get that moment."
Kemp doffed his helmet, then drove in the first run of the game with a single against an infield shift. He drove in all three runs for the Padres on Monday, but in the end the Dodgers prevailed. That gave Dodgers fans the best of both worlds on Monday.