Matt Kemp underwent an hourlong operation Friday that revealed the condition of his left shoulder was worse than expected, raising doubts about whether he will be at full strength for the start of next season.
Kemp is believed to have torn his labrum crashing into a wall in Colorado on Aug. 28. He and the Dodgers were hoping the damage would be relatively minor and require nothing more than a cleanup, but Dr. Neal ElAttrache decided the labrum had to be repaired — that is, reattached to the socket.
The Dodgers issued a statement stating ElAttrache expects Kemp to be ready for opening day. The All-Star center fielder will begin physical therapy in seven to 10 days and is expected to start swinging a bat in early January, according to the team.
A team spokesman said the Dodgers would have no other comment on Kemp’s status.
Earlier in the week, trainer Sue Falsone said Kemp could be sidelined for four months if he had a labral repair. “He wouldn’t be far behind,” she said. “He would have a fairly normal spring training.”
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez underwent a similar procedure in October of 2010. He was limited to 11 games the following spring.
“I didn’t have a lot of power in April, but I got hits and everything,” Gonzalez said. “Once May rolled around, I felt pretty good.”
Gonzalez hit only one home run that April for the Boston Red Sox, but he finished the season with 27.
Shortstop Hanley Ramirez also has undergone the procedure, in mid-September of last year. He had a normal spring training and hit 24 home runs this season, which is as many as he hit when he won the National League batting title in 2009.
Kemp’s surgery capped an injury-plagued season for the 28-year-old, who signed an eight-year, $160-millon contract last winter.
Kemp missed 51 games in the middle of the season because of a strained hamstring and was slowed in the final month by shoulder pain. He finished the season batting .303 with 23 home runs and 69 runs batted in in 106 games.
In the 20 games that followed his crash with the wall, Kemp hit .159 with two home runs and six RBIs. But he closed the season strong, hitting four home runs in the last eight games, seven of them Dodgers victories.
Despite the toll playing in center field has taken on Kemp’s body, General Manager Ned Colletti said he doesn’t intend to move him to a corner position. Kemp has said he didn’t want to change.
“I’m a center fielder, man,” he said a day after hitting the wall.
Kemp isn’t the only projected starter in the Dodgers’ outfield who will be recovering from a major operation. Carl Crawford, one of the four players acquired in the blockbuster trade with the Red Sox, underwent reconstructive elbow surgery on his throwing arm.
Colletti said he expects Crawford to be the opening-day left fielder.