GLENDALE, Ariz. — Somewhere, the AlterG treadmill that served as Matt Kemp‘s exercise lifeline for weeks is collecting dust. Kemp is out in the open, where he should be, taking batting practice and running on a baseball field.
Tuesday, he was cleared to run a curved path with Dodgers first-base coach Davey Lopes watching. Since he was first cleared to run on Saturday, he had only been running straight lines.
His swing (above) looks normal. His body, chiseled from an off-season spent doing upper body work in the gym, looks better than normal. The only question is, when will Kemp be able to start playing games?
“Part of the plan is not to have a timetable,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Tuesday, “as far as throwing a date out there, so you guys can say ‘April 1,’ then we get to April 1 and he’s not quite ready so now he’s off schedule. If something happened he had ‘a setback.’
“The more he does, the more he steps forward, continues to do more without having setbacks, the more he continues to do and that tells us where we’re at.”
Kemp has said repeatedly that he won’t rush himself back. Playing in the Dodgers’ season-opening series against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Sydney, Australia is out. The first game on North American soil, March 30 against the Padres in San Diego, hasn’t been ruled out.
That’s the good news. It’s also all the news.
“Stan (Conte, the Dodgers’ head athletic trainer) has characterized it as kind of like the fifth stage of a seven-stage rehab,” Mattingly said. “So (Kemp) is getting there. We’re confident that he’s going in the right direction. I don’t think anyone wants to put pressure on Matt to say ‘this is the date’ because then it’s an artificial timetable. Then if he’s not ready he starts to feel like he’s behind schedule.”
Some bullet points for a Holy Experiment Day:
• Pitcher Ross Stripling will be in Los Angeles today to review the results of an MRI on his right elbow with team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache. The diagnosis isn’t expected to be announced until tomorrow.
• Zack Greinke, his right calf wrapped in a blue compression sleeve, attempted pushing off the bullpen rubber without a ball as pitching coach Rick Honeycutt looked on today. Greinke’s calf seems to be a day-to-day issue. He won’t be cleared to pitch until he can push off a rubber without pain.
• Zach Lee threw a bullpen session today. He told me that his next time on a mound could be in a Cactus League game if his strained right latissimus dorsi responds well.
• ICYMI, the Dodgers know who the opposing starter will be in Games 1 and 2:
• Mattingly hinted that he’s settled on his Game 1 and 2 starters and has informed the pitchers who they are.
• FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal picks the Dodgers to win the NL West.
• The first replay in Major League Baseball history lasted 2 minutes, 34 seconds. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com was there; his take makes you think that with better cameras and more angles, future replays won’t take nearly that long.
• Midlake’s last album, “Antiphon,” still sounds new months after its release. The album isn’t lyrically groundbreaking, or sonically groundbreaking, but it’s close to the cutting edge on both fronts. Meanwhile “The Old And The Young” has that purity that undergirds all good rock music; whoever doubles as their lyricist must be an old soul: