Dodgers News: Don Mattingly Says Matt Kemp Close To Returning
As the Los Angeles Dodgers prepared to play their split-squad games on Saturday, two of the team’s high-profile, but injured players, Zack Greinke and Matt Kemp, went through more work as they each try to recover from their respective injuries. Greinke’s right calf strain isn’t considered serious and while he is progressing, a return date has yet to be set. As for Kemp, his recovery from 0ff-season ankle surgery has been surrounded by more uncertainty.
He was limited in what he could do and it wasn’t until recently that he added running down fly balls to his workout, which came shortly after manager Don Mattingly said the center fielder was at step five of a seven-step recovery process. On Saturday, Mattingly offered another update on Kemp, courtesy of Dodgers.com’s Ken Gurnick:
Don Mattingly said Matt Kemp is getting close to playing in a game.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) March 8, 2014
If Kemp is indeed close to playing in a game, it would be a big boost for the Dodgers in more than just on-the-field considerations. Being able to track Kemp’s progress and see him in action can have an impact on what the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster will look like. Knowing what group of healthy outfielders he’ll have at his disposal would allow Mattingly to carry another infielder or pitcher, should he deem it necessary.
Because of the Dodgers Opening Series in Australia against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the team’s Spring Training schedule has been compressed. The Dodgers have nine games remaining before they depart for Australia and they will play one game against the Australian national team on March 20 before the season opener on March 22.
Kemp has been all but ruled out for the first two games of the season, but if he’s able to play in a game in the next week or so could put him on track for Opening Day at Dodger Stadium April 5.
ICYMI: Here’s our Dodgers Nation Week In Review Video