Matt Kemp’s frustration was nearly as obvious in his postgame interview as it was when he was yelling in manager Don Mattingly’s general direction after being pulled in the seventh inning of the Dodgers’ 5-3 win over the St. Louis Caridnals Saturday.
Six times Kemp used the phrase “bad at-bat” in reference to his inning-ending strikeout with two runners on base in the sixth inning of a one-run game. Both Kemp and Mattingly said independently that the center fielder wasn’t shouting at his manager when he exited in a double-switch.
“I was just frustrated,” Kemp said. “It had been a bad day for me. I didn’t do much to help the team win. It’s over now.”
As for the boos that rained from the stands following the last at-bat in an 0-for-3 performance, Kemp didn’t deny that’s what he deserved, but his teammates did.
“He’s struggling,” Adrian Gonzalez said. “We all go through out struggles. But Kemp cares more than anybody out here… he’s trying his heart out for the fans. I’ve been in those situations where you’re pressing and your hands just don’t go when you want them to go.”
Kemp’s average dropped to .261 after leaving five men on base. He and Andre Ethier, who has been publicly frustrated after he was benched on Wednesday, combined to go 0 for 7 Saturday.
Mattingly insisted that his decision to remove Kemp had nothing to do with his center fielder’s performance, but was simply an effort to keep relief pitcher Kenley Jansen in the game.
“Guys don’t like coming out and I understand that,” Mattingly said. “This has nothing to do with Matt struggling. It has more to do with it was a baseball move today. Like I said, I don’t like doing it.”
“I know Matt’s frustrated with things, but there’s not anything that’s personal there. I love Matt and it was a baseball move.”