Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp gets his first day off of 2013, and he doesn’t like it.

Matt Kemp“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:

Crawford LF
Ellis 2B
Ethier RF
Gonzalez 1B
Ellis C
Schumaker CF
Punto 3B
Sellers SS
Kershaw P

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.”

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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.