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Dodgers hope Matt Kemp hitting streak hints at power to come

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Maybe you haven’t heard, but Matt Kemp has a 10-game hitting streak.

It’s understandable if you’ve missed this little run, since it’s been of the quiet variety. In his last 10 games, Kemp is 13 for 43 with two doubles and four runs batted in without a triple or home run. During that stretch, he has weak .326 on-base and .349 slugging percentages.

So the hits have at least begun to come. Now fingers are crossed, the power will follow. Kemp is coming off winter shoulder surgery, and the expectation has been that once he rids himself of bad habits picked up during the injury and post-surgery rehab, his power will naturally follow.

The expectation remains, though there are hardly any guarantees.

“I don’t care if he hits five home runs, just get to the point where you’re hitting the ball into the gaps,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “That’s how you drive in runs. Five homers and 100 ribbies, it doesn’t matter how you get them.

“Everyone asks about the home runs and the power, it’s more about the doubles. That’s how you drive in runs. I’m not against home runs, don’t get me wrong. But it’s doubles that really end up being the ones that drive the runs in.”

Even a rather empty hitting streak still remains a hitting streak. In the last two games, Kemp has sent balls to the warning track. He keeps hinting at the swing that in 2011 hit .324 with 39 homers and 126 RBI.

Through this season’s first 35 games, Kemp is hitting .269 with one homer and 14 RBIs, and with .318 on-base and .343 slugging percentages. Last season through the same amount of games, Kemp was hitting .355 with 12 homers and 28 RBIs, with .441 on-base and .719 slugging percentages.

“I feel like he’s still going to get his homers,” Mattingly said. “They’re going to come. But it’s when you’re forcing them they don’t seem to come. That’s the one thing I don’t want him to do, try to force it.

“That’s what happens, 'Oh, Matt hasn’t hit a homer. How many homers has he hit?’ It’s just there all the time. I’d rather just see him hit. He’s having good swings. Once he starts to get his hits, the power is right there with him.”

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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