Yasiel Puig returns to Dodgers’ lineup, Matt Kemp takes early batting practice in Phoenix.

Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp could play his first game in a Dodgers uniform in nearly two months tonight. (Rachel Luna/Staff photographer)


Yasiel Puig was back in the Dodgers’ starting lineup Monday in Phoenix, one day after a tight left hip limited him to pinch-hit duty against the San Francisco Giants.

Puig will hit cleanup — not the leadoff spot that manager Don Mattingly said was Puig’s until the end of the season. Nick Punto is leading off and playing shortstop with Hanley Ramirez still recovering from a cortisone injection in his back. Carl Crawford is also out of the lineup with a back issue and remains day-to-day. Nick Buss, who started his first major-league game in right field Sunday, is starting in left field today.

But the biggest eye-opener was a name not listed in the Dodgers’ starting lineup:

Kemp has only played in one game since July 5. In that game, on July 21, he sprained his ankle in the ninth inning of a game against the Washington Nationals. Since then, he struggled to hit during a rehabilitation assignment with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, subsequently strained his hamstring while working out at the Dodgers’ instructional leaguers at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona, and has seen his role diminished amid the strong play of Puig, Crawford and Andre Ethier.

Puig, Crawford and Ethier — who’s dealing with a sore left ankle — are all out of the lineup Monday. Kemp could be coming back at a good time. He arrived at Chase Field early and took a round of batting practice before his teammates. His role for tonight could be limited to pinch-hitting duties, but that appears to be a game-time decision.

Here’s video of Kemp’s interview with reporters before the game.

The complete lineups for both teams:

Dodgers:

Nick Punto SS
Mark Ellis 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Yasiel Puig RF
A.J. Ellis C
Skip Schumaker CF
Juan Uribe 3B
Nick Buss LF
Hyun-Jin Ryu P

Diamondbacks:

A.J. Pollock CF
Willie Bloomquist LF
Paul Goldschmidt 1B
Martin Prado 3B
Aaron Hill 2B
Gerardo Parra RF
Chris Owings SS
Tuffy Gosewisch C
Trevor Cahill P

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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.