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Dodgers believe all signs point to Matt Kemp regaining his form

Matt KempDon MattinglyAdrian Gonzalez

You can wish it and hope it from now until taking in your final breath, but that won’t make it true.

Still, if you’ve been scuffling like the Dodgers the last four weeks, you take whatever encouraging signs you can identify and proclaim them event-changers.

Which again takes us back to Matt Kemp, a theme that figures to be replayed throughout the season.

Kemp, coming off significant off-season shoulder surgery, is on a curious hot streak. He has now hit in 14 consecutive games, batting .328 along the way, yet still without his normal power. There have been no home runs in that stretch and only three doubles.

Indeed, Kemp has hit only one home run in 149 at-bats. And that’s through almost the first quarter of the season. He has drive in 15 runs and has scored 18 times, which although fairly modest for him, are each second on the team.

But Wednesday night Kemp lined a ground-rule double to right. Later he added a sharp single to left. He was hitting the ball hard to all fields.

For those wishing and hoping, those are good signs.

“I’m feeling better and better every day,” Kemp said. “I’m just glad to get the win, man. I feel like if I get on base Gonzo (Adrian Gonzalez) and those guys are going to hit me in.

 “But I’m feeling a lot better at the plate. Those are good signs coming.”

Manager Don Mattingly, too, is convinced the Kemp who was regarded as one of the game’s best players before struck by hamstring and shoulder injuries last season, is nearing his prodigious self.

“I think Matt is kind of out of his early season [funk],” Mattingly said. “I think we can kind of say, 'Hey, Matt is swinging the bat pretty good.' Now until obviously he hits some homers, he’s going to continue to get those questions.

“But when he starts swinging the bat like this, it’s just a matter of time before the doubles come and he’s driving in runs and everything else.”

Of course, if you’re Mattingly, what else are you going to believe?

Regardless of the new talent the Dodgers have acquired, Kemp remains the key to the offense. If he can just resemble the Kemp of 2011, the Dodgers could yet make some real noise in their division.

That’s their wish, and they hope the signs they’re now seeing.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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