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Acquiring Outfielder Is an Option

Times Staff Writer

Fresh-faced Matt Kemp is considered a short-term and long-term solution in the outfield.

But he probably is not a medium-term solution.

That Washington Nationals leadoff batter with 18 home runs, Alfonso Soriano, the reluctant left fielder who leads the league in assists? He would fit nicely with the Dodgers after the trading deadline in the heat of a pennant race.

Don’t think General Manager Ned Colletti hasn’t inquired already about a deal.

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Kemp, 21, is expected to remain with the Dodgers until Ricky Ledee or Jason Repko returns, then he’ll probably go to triple-A Las Vegas. That wouldn’t represent a demotion because he spent the first two months of the season at double-A Jacksonville in Florida.

Kemp also will be given every chance to win a starting job next spring. The Dodgers hope he becomes their center fielder for many years.

That’s all the more reason to play it safe with him. The only way Kemp would stay with the Dodgers all season is if he proves in the next two weeks that he can handle major league pitching on a consistent basis.

A more likely scenario is for Colletti to acquire an outfielder via trade in July. Sources close to the Nationals say that unless the team makes an abrupt turnaround in the standings, Soriano will become available because he is in the last year of his contract.

The Dodgers probably would have to give up a top prospect for Soriano. The incoming ownership group of the Nationals already has signaled that it wants to develop the farm system and trim payroll.

The Nationals are less likely than some other teams to want shortstop Cesar Izturis or catcher Dioner Navarro because they have players signed at those positions beyond this season.

The Dodgers are also exploring a trade for a starting pitcher. However, no deal is likely until closer to the July 31 deadline. Izturis and Navarro should be healthy before then.

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Reliever Lance Carter was sent to triple-A Las Vegas to make room for Kemp on the roster, and Izturis was moved to the 60-day disabled list to create a spot for Kemp on the 40-man roster.

Izturis is still on schedule to be activated when his minor league rehabilitation assignment ends in about three weeks, because the 60 days are retroactive to opening day.

Dropping Carter leaves the Dodgers with 11 pitchers for the first time since May 9.

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Izturis had 10 at-bats in his second day of extended spring training at Vero Beach, Fla. He had two hits and walked twice. Izturis is still three or four days from beginning his rehabilitation assignment at Las Vegas because the Dodgers want him to accumulate at least 30 at-bats in Florida.... Second baseman Jeff Kent did not play because of a sore left wrist. Manager Grady Little said Kent should be available today.... J.D. Drew, who sat out the last two games because of a sore shoulder, said he would play today.


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