CINCINNATI — Matt Kemp's attempt to return from a sprained left ankle was shut down indefinitely Friday, a day after he experienced tightness in his right hamstring while running the bases at the Dodgers' minor league facility in Glendale, Ariz.
And though Manager Don Mattingly said the team is awaiting a more detailed evaluation of Kemp's condition, there's a good chance his latest setback means the outfielder is done for the season.
"When the hamstring kind of jumps back in there and becomes involved, that means we have more issues," Mattingly said. "Obviously at some point we run out of time."
That may prove a good thing in the short term because a third return from the disabled list for Kemp this season could become a problem for Mattingly and the Dodgers. An All-Star last year and the most-valuable-player runner-up in 2011, Kemp has played in just one of the Dodgers' last 55 games — during which the team went 43-12. And he looked overmatched in a recent five-game stint with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, going hitless with seven strikeouts in 18 at-bats.
But before leaving for his minor league rehab assignment, Kemp was talking as if he expected a starting job to be waiting for him as soon as was healthy.
"I want to play every day," Kemp said. "I don't like to sit out of games."
Accommodating Kemp would probably mean benching either Yasiel Puig or Andre Ethier, who is hitting .305 since replacing Kemp in center field. But leaving Kemp on the bench would invite distraction.
Friday's setback may allow the Dodgers to avoid either situation.
"I haven't talked to him directly," Mattingly said of Kemp. "But the trainers say he is frustrated."
The youngest of Mark Ellis' three children is a 2-year-old girl named Dylan. So when Sarah Ellis, wife of the Dodgers' second baseman, read about the death of an 8-year-old Indiana boy named Dylan following a baseball practice earlier this summer, it haunted her.
"The baseball tie-in and the name of the child and everything kind of struck her. And she reached out to the community to see if there was anything we could do," Mark Ellis said.
As a result, the Ellises partnered with the Dodgers, Reds and Rawlings to bus Dylan Williams' former Little League teammates and their parents to Cincinnati for Saturday's game. The kids will be on the field during batting practice, after which the Ellises will present the Union City players with specially made protective caps the children will wear on the field, as well as a check to pay for medical equipment. Dylan Williams died days after being struck in the head and neck by a thrown ball.
"To be able to do something like this and hopefully shine a little bit of light on this family and this whole community who lost this young kid, just to bring them out to the ballpark, something that's little to us is going to be hopefully a big day to them," Mark Ellis said.
As Ellis spoke, his 6-year-old son Briggs, who missed his first day of school to be with his dad, sat nearby in the Dodgers clubhouse.
"I don't think you can be a parent and not think about something like that," Ellis said. "And if you're a parent, you read an article like that, it's going to strike you for sure."
Steve Dilbeck contributed to this report.