Minor-league rehab assignment is still a possibility for Dodgers’ Matt Kemp.

Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp sprained his ankle on July 21. (Associated Press photo)

The Albuquerque Isotopes most likely won’t take part in the Pacific Coast League postseason. Their magic number for elimination is three, with eight games left in the regular season and a seven-game deficit in the Pacific Coast League’s American Southern division standings.

Maybe the best thing they have to look forward to is the return of Matt Kemp to the lineup.

Kemp took another step toward playing a minor-league game at some point in the next week, running the bases prior to the Dodgers’ game against the Boston Red Sox and saying (albeit vaguely) that he felt “good” afterward.

“I’ve still got some work that I need to do,” Kemp said. “I’ll know when it’s time. They’ll know when it’s time.”

Running the bases at full speed is among the final steps in the process before Kemp is cleared to play a minor-league game. Asked if he is able to run at full speed, Kemp said “I’m just getting stronger.”

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he doesn’t want Kemp to return to the lineup in “spring training mode.” One minor-league game or more would be a big benefit for Kemp and Mattingly to gauge the center fielder’s progress.

“We’ll get him comfortable and do what I would do with Carl when he was coming back from his hamstring — he gets a couple days in there, a day off,” Mattingly said. “I’ll be careful with him.”

Kemp sprained his ankle in Washington on July 21 and hasn’t played since. Mattingly said he wants Kemp to be running full speed before his next game.

“You want him to be able to play full speed because you want him to be able to not be afraid to slide, not be afraid to run into the gap, make a stop, make a turn, steal a base,” Mattingly said. “We don’t throw guys out there that aren’t 100 percent A guy may be playing a little less than 100 because he’s not on the DL, but if you’re coming off the DL you’re 100 percent.”

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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.