“I don’t like days off,” Matt Kemp said as he bounded up the dugout steps before his first off-day of 2013, on his way to take batting practice for the second time Wednesday.
The last time he took a day off was Sept. 9, 2012. Kemp was nursing a then-undisclosed torn labrum in his left shoulder. This time, the problems aren’t physical. Kemp is batting .185 with no home runs and just four RBIs through the season’s first 14 games.
“Just body language, more than anything,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Being around the game, you see guys struggle. Sometimes it helps to sit back and watch a game where you don’t have to be out there. … It gives him another day tomorrow, almost three days with the night game (Friday) in Baltimore. I wanted to give him 10 to 12 days off over the course of 162 anyway.”
The goal with Kemp?
“Just trying to get him to back the ball up and help him find feel,” Mattingly said. “You can talk mechanics and all that stuff, but a lot of it’s feel for guys. Just as fast as you struggle is how quick it turns. A couple good at bats where you’re feeling right.”
Without Kemp, here’s how the Dodgers will line up against San Diego Padres right-hander Tyson Ross:
Kemp took batting practice in a separate, earlier session on the field with Mattingly and Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire looking on. They’re telling Kemp to sit back on pitches and not hit the ball so far out in front of the plate, particularly with low pitches
“I think the ball down has been getting away from him, the ball that’s moving,” Mattingly said. “He’s just got to back the ball up a little bit. When you try to go get it, it gets you in trouble.”