Matt Kemp’s shoulder is improving, and more about that throw last night.

Matt Kemp is batting third today and his shoulder is OK. That’s good news less than 24 hours after Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was considering giving the center fielder a day off today against the Cardinals.

About last night …

Mattingly doesn’t usually let his emotions show while talking to the media (talking to umpires is a different animal). Last night offered an exception. See for yourself, at the 2:00 mark, where the manager says, “that play tonight, is just to me, it really chokes me up.”



Mattingly was talking about Kemp’s play in the top of the ninth inning to throw out Yadier Molina at third base as the catcher tried to stretch a double into a triple. Today, the manager called it “one of the best plays I think I’ve ever seen.”

“I know a lot of things happened in the ninth inning,” Mattingly said, “but that play was just unbelievable for me.”

He noted that Kemp made the last out in the eighth inning by grounding out to shortstop, struck out in his first three at-bats, and had to recover from missing the catch on Molina’s line drive against the wall on the first play of the ninth inning, before making the laser throw to third base from center field while “he was off his feet.”

“To me, that’s greatness,” said Mattingly, who was considering giving Kemp a day off today during last night’s game. After Kemp threw out Molina, Mattingly reconsidered, and we’ll see if that decision helps or hurts the Dodgers in the series finale.

“The charge you get from making that play, that may be something that sparks him.”

Kemp is riding a 5-for-48 slump since crashing into the center-field wall at Coors Field on Aug. 28. In the meantime, he’s faced repeated questions about his health but does not attribute his slump to the injury, recently referring to that as a possible “excuse.”

That’s made it difficult, if not impossible, for reporters to take what Kemp says at face value when he talks about his health.

But it sounds like Kemp’s shoulder is actually getting better, even after crashing into another wall last night.

“Listening to (head athletic trainer) Sue (Falsone) in the back, he’s been kind of light on the treatment the last few days,” Mattingly said of Kemp.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.