Matt Kemp jogged onto the field at Dodger Stadium before crushing a string of pitches during batting practice and fielding grounders Tuesday. Just two weeks after being placed on the disabled list for the second time this season, the All-Star outfielder gave every indication he’s on pace for a timely return to the lineup.
And though there’s no timetable, Dodgers trainer Sue Falsone said there have been no setbacks in Kemp’s rehabilitation since he suffered a strained left hamstring May 30. It was the second time this season Kemp was taken out of the lineup because of the injury.
Dressed in Dodger blue shorts and shoes, Kemp spent 20 minutes before batting practice stretching the hamstring and going through range-of-motion exercises before jogging pole to pole on the warning track. It’s a routine he’s been gradually intensifying during the past week.
But even as Kemp continues to progress and meet every physical goal placed in front of him, he’s wary of coming back too soon.
“We’re just taking it day by day and not rushing it,” said Kemp, who leads the Dodgers with 12 homers and a .355 batting average. “I want to hurry up and get back, but I also want to make sure I’m healthy and everything is feeling great.”
Kemp was initially expected to miss up to four weeks, and it appears he could be out that entire time. Though he believes he didn’t rush back from the injury last month, he hurt the hamstring again just two games back in the lineup.
Davey Lopes, a former Dodgers second baseman who is now the club’s first base coach, has worked closely with Kemp since last season. Lopes said Kemp needs to be careful about coming back too quickly.
“A lot of times the mind is the last thing to heal,” Lopes said. “The leg or injury heals, but the mind still has to let go. I’m sure that’s what it will be like for him this time. He’ll probably have to ease into it a little bit.
“He didn’t do that last time. He came right back on that 16th day and tried to pick up where he left off. You can try to stay at a consistent speed when you’re running the bases, but you don’t find out until you need that extra gear. That’s what happened last time.
“He was anticipating stopping at third base and the guy bobbles the ball and he tried to hit that extra gear to score, and the leg wasn’t ready for that.”
Kemp said when he rounded third he heard a pop and could tell he had reinjured the hamstring. Until then, he believed it had healed completely.
Now, he said, he’s not sure when he’ll return to the lineup. But he said it’ll all depend on how he approaches the next few weeks and how his body responds to the rehabilitation.
“I’ll know when I’m ready, and when I’m ready, I’ll be back out there,” Kemp said. “Hopefully, the sooner the better.”
Kemp continues to lead the National League in All-Star votes (2,589,464), and Andre Ethier dropped from fourth to fifth after being passed this week by Melky Cabrera (1,357,461). Also in the top five are Carlos Beltran (1,782,831) and Ryan Braun (1,553,356).