Matt Kemp makes progress in Dodgers’ minor-league game, major-league games still a ways off.

Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp played one inning in center field in a minor-league intrasquad game Wednesday. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — For as much progress as he made Wednesday, Matt Kemp‘s measured thoughts after his latest minor-league rehab game proved just how long a journey he faces before he’s able to play for the Dodgers.

Kemp took a big step forward by playing one inning in center field against a group of Dodgers minor leaguers, something he hasn’t done in any kind of competitive environment since Sept. 27, 2013. Three weeks after that, he had a major microfracture surgery performed on the talus bone in his left ankle.

Two balls were hit at Kemp on Wednesday, a fly ball and a single, and he didn’t have to range far to field either one. Playing in the field, Kemp said, felt “a little weird” because of the long layoff.

“My legs still feel a little heavy and tired at times, but that comes with getting back in shape as far as being back out on the field,” Kemp said. “You can lift as many weights as you want but nothing compares to that game speed.”

Kemp went hitless at the plate against minor-league pitching, but rightfully isn’t focusing on results yet.

“I just go for feeling and I feel pretty good,” he said. “Sometimes I’m a little quick. It’s just good to be back out there. Hitting wise I’m where I need to be. Now it’s just playing defense, running bases, just getting a feel for being out on defense and on the bases again.”

The next step, presumably, is for Kemp to get more time in the field and spend some time running the bases. He said there’s no timetable for building up his workload. For now, Kemp personifies the definition of “day to day.”

“Each time you get more and more and see where you are,” he said.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, 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.