While the Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff is full of various injuries and players coming off of injury, center fielder Matt Kemp is drawing closer to a return, which may come as soon as April 4, when the team begins their first homestand of the regular season.
Kemp didn’t participate in any of the Dodgers’ Cactus League games, but he did play in minor league and intrasquad games at Camelback Ranch in the past few weeks. Kemp’s recovery from off-season ankle surgery got off to a slow start before gaining momentum.
According to the MLB Network Radio Twitter account, Dodgers’ general manager Ned Colletti intimated Kemp is physically ready to take the field:
Colletti on Kemp “It’s becoming more and more a baseball decision than a medical decision. Medical has all but signed off on it”
— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) March 30, 2014
Learning that Kemp is medically cleared isn’t much of a surprise given the fact he’s been able to increase the level of activity in his workouts without suffering any setbacks. The 2011 NL MVP runner-up began with solely taking batting practice before including running to first base and eventually playing in a game. With the long recovery, Kemp admitted to needing to familiarize himself with playing center field again and he’s struggled at the plate more times than not, but he’s been open about focusing on his health.
Given Colletti’s comments, it’s likely Kemp will be activated in time for the Dodger Stadium opener, but how much he’ll play remains to be seen. While Kemp has previously played a full game at Camelback Ranch and let it be known he doesn’t plan on being the Dodgers’ fourth outfielder, the fact of the matter remains he hasn’t been able to remain healthy. With nearly an entire season still ahead, the Dodgers will likely bring Kemp along slowly in an effort to prevent placing too much strain on his ankle.
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