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.