Matt Kemp goes 0 for 3, makes three catches in second rehab game.

Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp went 0 for 3 with a pair of strikeouts Friday night for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. (Rachel Luna/Staff photographer)

Playing his second rehab game with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday night, Matt Kemp went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

After serving as the designated hitter yesterday, Kemp played seven innings in center field and made three catches. He is 0 for 8 two games into the rehab assignment.

Kemp is expected to play tomorrow and Sunday in the field and could rejoin the Dodgers as early as Monday.

Mental approach ought to determine Edinson Volquez’s success with the Dodgers.

Edinson Volquez

Edinson Volquez was 9-10 with a 6.01 earned-run average this season before he was placed on release waivers Wednesday by the San Diego Padres. (Getty Images)

Edinson Volquez was laughing Friday. Maybe it was nervous laughter; reading someone’s emotions can be difficult the first time you meet them.

The right-handed pitcher, who officially signed a one-year contract with the Dodgers on Friday, was talking about his last start seven days ago against the Chicago Cubs.

“Every pitch I threw, they hit them,” Volquez said. “I was surprised because I have good numbers against the Cubs. I saw my record agianst them, it was 5-0, 2-point ERA [actually 2.98]. I had a lot of confidence. Then in the first inning it was like six runs, five (earned) runs, in the first inning. It’s not good.”

Cue the awkward laughter.
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Dodgers’ Matt Kemp on track for second rehabilitation game tonight in Rancho Cucamonga.

Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp is scheduled to play his first game in center field tonight with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. Kemp went 0 for 5 and grounded into two double plays last night. (Rachel Luna / Staff Photographer)

Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp is scheduled to play his first game in center field tonight, the second day of his rehabilitation assignment with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.
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Two days after benching, Yasiel Puig is batting leadoff for the Dodgers against the San Diego Padres.

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig was benched midway through the Dodgers’ last game against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)


Yasiel Puig‘s benching lasted half a game.

Puig is back at the top of the Dodgers’ batting order today with the San Diego Padres in town. The rest of the lineup has a very normal look to it with Hyun-Jin Ryu on the mound.

There will be no (re-)rematch between the Dodgers and Carlos Quentin. The 31-year-old outfielder, who broke Zack Greinke‘s clavicle in April, is having season-ending knee surgery. Greinke is scheduled to start Sunday.

San Diego is also giving Chase Headley a second consecutive game off. The third baseman came down with back spasms Tuesday in Phoenix and hasn’t played since. No word yet whether Headley, who hit 31 home runs last season but has been stuck on eight since July 27, will be available off the bench.

Left-hander Eric Stults, whose first eight seasons were spent in the Dodgers’ organization, starts for San Diego. He’s 1-2 with a 3.75 earned-run average in four career starts against his former team.

Leave your jackets at home — it’s 90 degrees with a slight breeze.

Here are both teams’ lineups for the 7 p.m. game:
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Daily Distractions: The Dodgers’ strikeouts are shrinking.

Mark McGwireIn digging through some numbers yesterday, here’s one:

This Dodgers team might well finish with no 100-strikeout batters.

Andre Ethier is the club’s most prolific whiffer, with 82 coming into today’s game against the San Diego Padres. He and Adrian Gonzalez (79) are likely to get a fair amount of rest in September, so keep an eye on Yasiel Puig (79 strikeouts) and, remarkably, Matt Kemp (69) over the final month too.

If the Phillies’ Ryan Howard can avoid striking out five more times over the final month of 2013, and Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig doesn’t stay stuck on 94, the Dodgers might be the majors’ only team without a 100-strikeout man.

How’s that for a statistical anomaly from a Mark McGwire-coached lineup?

Did we look up the last time that happened? Sure did: 2007, when Russell Martin whiffed a team-leading 89 times. Before Martin, the last Dodger to lead the team with fewer than 100 strikeouts was current third-base coach Tim Wallach in 1994.

But it’s a more impressive feat in 2013 with strikeouts at an all-time high, with a hitting coach whose final major-league season featured twice as many strikeouts as hits.

But McGwire took the job last fall with a mantra about patience, and has stayed true to that in his first season as hitting coach.

Some bullet points for a Friday morning:

• Kemp went 0-for-5 with a strikeout and two double-play groundouts in his first rehab game with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga last night. Kemp was the Quakes’ designated hitter and figures to play center field the next couple days. There were no ankle problems, mercifully, but Kemp was fooled by a couple changeups.

• The Padres must be happy to be rid of Edinson Volquez.

• In one early-morning pre-waiver deadline trade, John Axford went from the Milwaukee Brewers to the St. Louis Cardinals. If the Dodgers hook up with the Cardinals in the postseason, they will face a bullpen that can claim this:

• From ESPN.com: “Scorekeeping in baseball, however, is an art form, individual expression that makes you feel you are part of the game. It personally and precisely records every moment of the game, allowing you to replay and relive it forever.” • Not a baseball photo, but: Championship-winning coach takes a photo of himself and his wife kissing a championship trophy in 1976, loses hair, joins Twitter, re-stages the photo in 2013, shares photo with the world. Enjoy. • Baseball photo.

 

• Whenever I need a laugh, I do drugs:

Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt on Edinson Volquez.

One day after the Dodgers reportedly signed Edinson Volquez, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt talked to MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM about what role the right-hander might have:

“I think the guys are pretty well set for this weekend, but we’ll get him in,” Honeycutt said. “Obivously he adds some depth to our pitching staff with us going forward. We’re able to expand the rosters starting Monday. We get some added depth in case there’s anything going on down the stretch.”

So it sounds like Hyun-Jin Ryu, Chris Capuano and Zack Greinke will start in that order this weekend against the Padres.

The full interview:

Daily Distractions: Ricky Nolasco would like to re-sign with the Dodgers.

Ricky Nolasco

Dodgers pitcher Ricky Nolasco becomes a free agent at the end of the season. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)

Ricky Nolasco‘s next start will be his 10th in a Dodgers uniform. If the last two starts are any indication — the right-hander has pitched 16 innings and allowed zero runs against the Red Sox and Cubs, respectively — he’s grown quite comfortable pitching for his childhood team in a short amount of time.

While some professional athletes simply aren’t able to deal with the unique pressures of pitching near their hometown, Nolasco has adapted well, improving incrementally with each outing. A free agent at the end of the season, Nolasco chose his words carefully Wednesday when asked if he’d want to re-sign with the Dodgers.

“My teammates have been doing a great job of welcoming me here,” Nolasco said after blanking the Cubs. “As far as what the future holds, we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens. I’m from here, and this is where I want to be. We’ll just see what happens.

“I’ll focus right now on winning right now and all that will play itself out.”

The key words there — this is where I want to be — were easily lost yesterday, when Yasiel Puig‘s benching was the media focus after the game. (More on him in a bit.)

Since Magic Johnson and his Guggenheim Baseball Management cohorts bought the club, the Dodgers’ new owners have gone out of their way to show they are choosers, not beggars. This winter, they potentially can choose from a free-agent pitching crop that includes Nolasco, Matt Garza, Phil Hughes, Tim Lincecum, Ervin Santana, A.J. Burnett and Jon Lester (for whom the Red Sox hold a team option worth $13 million). You can certainly argue that Nolasco, who turns 31 in December, isn’t the best pitcher in that group. He isn’t the worst. More importantly, would any accept the job of fourth starter more willingly, with lower contract demands, than the Rialto right-hander?

That question ignores the Dodgers’ plans for Josh Beckett, prospect Zach Lee, and Chad Billingsley, who’s due to return from Tommy John surgery at some point next season if his rehab goes well. (All three would love to have a permanent spot in the Dodgers’ 2014 rotation behind Kershaw-Greinke-Ryu.) But it’s a question that the Dodgers will have to ponder if Nolasco continues to force his way into the team’s long-term blueprints.

Some more bullet points for an off day:
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Reports: Dodgers to sign Edinson Volquez.

Edinson Volquez

Edinson Volquez was 9-10 with a 6.01 earned-run average this season before he was placed on release waivers Wednesday by the San Diego Padres. (Getty Images)


According to multiple reports Wednesday, the Dodgers are on the verge of signing right-handed pitcher Edinson Volquez to a major-league contract. Volquez was placed on release waivers earlier Wednesday by the San Diego Padres.

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Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp will begin rehabilitation assignment tomorrow in Rancho Cucamonga.

Kemp ankleDodgers manager Don Mattingly said that center fielder Matt Kemp will begin his long-awaited rehabilitation assignment tomorrow with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

Kemp is scheduled to be the designated hitter in the Quakes’ 7 p.m. home game against the High Desert Mavericks.

“He passed all the tests,” Mattingly said.

Kemp sustained what’s believed to be a severe Grade 2 ankle sprain on July 21 in a game against the Washington Nationals. It was Kemp’s first game back after missing 15 days with inflammation in his right shoulder.

Wednesday was Kemp’s second straight day running the bases and making cuts in the outfield at close to full speed.

“It seems like it’s taken a while but we’re there. We survived,” Mattingly said. “Hopefully we get Matt sharp and it gives us options on our players.”

Kemp left without speaking to reporters after the game.

Yasiel Puig removed from game after four innings.

Yasiel PuigYasiel Puig was benched four innings into the Dodgers’ game against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday for what appears to be a disciplinary reason.

Puig wasn’t injured when Skip Schumaker took over in right field with the Dodgers leading 2-0. Puig was 0 for 1 with a walk against Edwin Jackson and didn’t engage in any unusual behavior on the field. After being removed to the game, Puig calmly returned to the Dodgers’ dugout and took a seat on the topmost bench.

It’s possible that Don Mattingly wasn’t pleased when Puig didn’t slide into second base in the first inning when Carl Crawford hit a ground ball to second base, an eventual 4-6-3 double play. Puig also made a pair of one-handed “snatch” catches in right field, though he’s been making those regularly in his rookie season.

It’s also possible that Puig did something between innings, away from the field or dugout, that warranted his benching.

Puig was benched earlier this month for arriving late to a game in Miami, but he was in the Dodgers’ clubhouse on time this morning.

We’ll pass along what we learn as the game develops. The Dodgers are leading 4-0 in the sixth inning.