There was no true update on Matt Kemp‘s condition Monday. The center fielder took a day off his rehab program as he attempts to come back from what’s believed to be a severe Grade 2 ankle sprain, and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that Kemp will try to run the bases tomorrow.
The day off wasn’t a setback, more of a planned resting point, and there have been no real setbacks so far — just a slower healing process than the Dodgers hoped for Kemp.
There’s still some hope that Kemp can play in a minor-league rehab game before he returns to the Dodgers, which presents some interesting scenarios.
The Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes are all but mathematically eliminated from the Pacific Coast League postseason. With eight games to play entering tonight’s contest against the Round Rock Express, Albuquerque’s “elimination number” (a reverse magic number, of sorts) is down to 2. Their season will almost certainly end Sept. 2.
Double-A Chattanooga has already been eliminated from Southern League playoff contention and will also see its season end Sept. 2.
That leaves High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Low-A Great Lakes as the only possible torch bearers if Kemp is to play in a minor-league game past Sept. 2. Rancho is one game out of a playoff spot entering the final week of California League play, while Great Lakes is 2 ½ games ahead of the chopping block in the Midwest League.
If Kemp isn’t ready to rehab before Sept. 2, would the Dodgers really send him to Rancho Cucamonga or Michigan, have him bat first and play center field in a Single-A playoff game?
“Nothing would scare us from doing that,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “You just like the higher levels because guys are more established.”
Still, sending Kemp to Single-A in September might not be the Dodgers’ first choice. Imagine a minor-league team playing together all season, clinching a playoff berth, then having to sit their center fielder or move their leadoff hitter down in the lineup just so Matt Kemp can play a game or two.
Then imagine how the other team feels. Unfair, perhaps?
It’s happened. Chris Young and Joel Pineiro pitched in California League playoff games on rehab assignments in recent years. Players rarely fuss about the level of competition if they need the games to stay sharp. It could happen again.
But, Mattingly said, “there’s other things you can do — Arizona League, with the prospects — that are other options.”
While the hope in Los Angeles is for a speedy recovery, a slower recovery by Kemp would certainly make things more interesting.