With first game in sight, Matt Kemp is ahead of Carl Crawford in Dodgers’ camp.

Matt Kemp

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly admitted that Matt Kemp is close to playing in his first spring training game, but the manager did everything in his power to avoid saying when that game will be.

There was no tiptoeing around when Carl Crawford would see the field: It won’t be for a while after his scheduled hitting session against live pitching Thursday was cancelled.

“Carl’s got a little bit of forearm tightness,” Mattingly said. “So we’re going to hold him back. He did some hitting this morning and he’s still feeling a little tightness. We don’t know if he threw too much, or too hard, the other day but (head trainer) Sue (Falsone) tells me … it’s not uncommon to be going through this, little things here and there. We’ll be cautious with Carl. We still look at it that we’ve got plenty of time before opening day.

“That’s a little bit of a — I don’t know if it’s a step back or a pause for Carl, but Matt continues on.”

Kemp batted against live pitching each of the last two days, and hasn’t had any setbacks in his recovery from surgery to repair the labrum in his left shoulder.

“We’re getting close to Matt playing,” Mattingly said. “We don’t necessarily have to DH him — that’s me wanting to get him in a game that way, but once he’s ready to go he’s able to play in the field.”

He didn’t rule out Kemp playing tomorrow in one of two split-squad games against either the Padres in Glendale or the Angels in Tempe. Mattingly also said that Kemp’s name isn’t written down a lineup on his personal dry-erase board.

“He’s passing all the tests,” Mattingly said of Kemp. “Carl is marching that same direction, then he hit a little stall. For me to say ‘yes’ and then he goes back, to me it’s a setback. I don’t want to have necessarily setbacks. We’re putting artificial dates on it, that’s the problem. Guys coming off injuries, stuff kind of gets good one day, next thing you know you have a little bad.”

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, 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.