Matt Kemp’s sprained ankle is worse than originally thought.

Matt Kemp

Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp has made three separate trips to the disabled list this season. (Getty Images)

Injured center fielder Matt Kemp won’t come off the disabled list once he’s eligible next Tuesday, when the Dodgers visit the St. Louis Cardinals, and there is no timetable for his return. Kemp sprained his left ankle July 21.

“By the time all four (outfielders) are ready to play, we’ll be a few weeks from the end” of the season, general manager Ned Colletti said.

Ankle sprains are classified as Grade 1, 2 or 3. Kemp is believed to have a Grade 2 sprain, which indicates a partial tearing of the ligaments — a very broad medical definition. When pressed, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said “there’s no true timetable” for Kemp to come back.

“It sounds like it’s going to be a little longer” than 15 days from the time of the injury, Mattingly said. “I don’t think it’s going quite as fast as we had hoped, as he had hoped. It’s going fairly slow but there is progress.”

When Kemp does return, “it’s going to be like a trade deadline acquisition,” Mattingly said. Kemp has played just 11 games since the end of May due to inflammation in the AC joint of his left shoulder and a strained hamstring, which resulted in separate trips to the disabled list. Kemp batted .324 with three home runs in those 11 games.

Ankle sprains befall basketball players more often than baseball players, but in a few recent examples, Grade 2 sprains have sidelined baseball players for three weeks or more.

Jose Reyes, then of the New York Mets, suffered a Grade 2 sprain on August 31, 2003 and didn’t play the rest of the season — about four weeks. Steve Pearce, then of the Pittsburgh Pirates, suffered a Grade 2 sprain on May 24, 2010 and didn’t play again until a minor-league game on June 17 — about three weeks. Then-Dodgers infielder Eugenio Velez suffered a Grade 2 sprain in spring training of 2011. He didn’t play appear in a game from March 22 until May 5, a little more than six weeks.

The Dodgers have the luxury of three starting outfielders to hold down the fort in Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig. Scott Van Slyke was recalled Wednesday from Triple-A Albuquerque.

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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.