Matt Kemp stands behind agent Dave Stewart’s comments, would accept trade for more playing time.

Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp has played three innings in center field since May 22. (Associated Press photo)


ST. LOUIS>>Matt Kemp insists he’s a center fielder. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has used Kemp in left field, not center, for all but three innings since May 22.

Kemp insists he’s an everyday player. With the Dodgers, he’s part of a five-man outfield rotation.

This apparent conflict of opinions hasn’t prompted Kemp to ask the Dodgers for a trade — a popular opinion with the trade deadline approaching and a headline like this one appearing on FoxSports.com.

But Kemp was happy to clarify the comments made by his agent, Dave Stewart, that Kemp would prefer to be playing center field rather than receiving inconsistent playing time in left or right.

“I want to be in a situation where I play every day,” he said Friday. “If it’s with the Dodgers, if it’s with someone else, that’s not my decision.

“I don’t have a no-trade clause. I don’t have any of that. I’m a Dodger. I’m going to play and help them any way I can. I’m blessed that I can wear a jersey and play the game I love to play.”
Continue reading

After early progress, Carl Crawford’s rehab ‘stuck’ in Arizona.

When Carl Crawford sprained his ankle May 27, the initial estimate was that he would be back in the Dodgers’ lineup by now.

Instead, he’s still rehabbing in Arizona.

“It seems like Carl’s kind of hit that plateau where he’s kind of gotten stuck,” manager Don Mattingly said Sunday. “He didn’t play yesterday. We’re not progressing. Right now, we have no plans for him playing rehab games or anything else.”
Continue reading

With Carl Crawford improving, Don Mattingly is mum on Matt Kemp’s future.

Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp has started the Dodgers’ last eight games in left field. (Associated Press)

Carl Crawford took a few steps closer to rejoining the Dodgers. They were quick steps, too, which is encouraging.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Crawford is about 80-85 percent healthy in his recovery from a sprained left ankle that landed him on the disabled list May 28. Mattingly couldn’t say for certain, but “we’re hoping he’ll be ready when he’s due to come off. I think it’s the last game of the Cincinnati series (June 12).”

Once that happens, what will happen to Matt Kemp?

Kemp, who is struggling with a career-low .243 batting average and has just four hits in his past 34 at-bats, has been spelling Crawford in left. It figures once Crawford is ready to play, Kemp will be the odd man out.

Mattingly wouldn’t go there. Actually, he wouldn’t go anywhere with it.

“We don’t have to talk about that now,” he said. “I don’t want to right now.”

What about a platoon situation with Crawford and Kemp?

“I’m not thinking about any of that right now,” said Mattingly, who said his current thinking was centered more on how his team can put together some victories.

“I’m clearly focused on that,” he said.

Matt Kemp starts in left field against the Cincinnati Reds.

Matt Kemp is starting in left field against the Cincinnati Reds, ending his 5-day hiatus from the starting lineup. It’s his first start in left field since June 21, 2006 — the 21st game of Kemp’s career. Today’s game will be his 1,010th.

Kemp bats sixth, with Andre Ethier batting second and the usual heart of the order intact against Reds right-hander Homer Bailey.

The full lineups for both teams:

Dee Gordon 2B
Andre Ethier CF
Yasiel Puig RF
Hanley Ramirez SS
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Matt Kemp LF
Justin Turner 3B
Drew Butera C
Clayton Kershaw P

Billy Hamilton CF
Todd Frazier 3B
Brandon Phillips 2B
Devin Mesoraco C
Jay Bruce RF
Ryan Ludwick LF
Brayan Pena 1B
Zack Cozart SS
Homer Bailey RHP

Carl Crawford leaves Dodgers’ game against Cincinnati with a sprained left ankle. Update.

Carl Crawford

Carl Crawford limps off the field after suffering a sprained left ankle in the eighth inning of the Dodgers’ 6-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday. (Getty Images)

Carl Crawford sprained his left ankle in the eighth inning of the Dodgers’ game against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night. The 32-year-old rolled the ankle on the turf while fielding Chris Heisey‘s double into the left-field corner. He had to be helped off the field by head athletic trainer Stan Conte and was replaced by Scott Van Slyke.

A picture of Crawford’s ankle as the injury occurred can be found here.

Update (11:15 p.m.): Crawford said he will be placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday.

“I think it’s going to take a while,” he said.

The injury is severe enough that Crawford entered the Dodgers’ clubhouse after the game in a wheelchair. He then limped into the showers and came back to his locker wearing a protective boot.
Continue reading

Matt Kemp is out of the Dodgers’ starting lineup for the fifth straight game. When will he return?

Matt Kemp Don Mattingly

Matt Kemp wasn’t in the Dodgers’nstarting lineup for the fifth straight game Tuesday. (Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News)

Don Mattingly and Matt Kemp had diverging opinions Monday about Kemp’s health, and that storyline isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

However, the gap between the two might be eased if Kemp gets penciled in to the starting lineup. For the fifth straight day, that didn’t happen. Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig are manning the three outfield positions against the Cincinnati Reds.

Kemp said he took fly balls in left field Tuesday afternoon. When asked how long, he replied “doesn’t matter.” He wasn’t smiling.

Even the usually affable Mattingly got a bit testy when pressed about Kemp’s situation.
Continue reading

Matt Kemp and Don Mattingly are still at odds over the outfielder’s health.

Matt Kemp

Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who hasn’t started since May 22, insists that he’s healthy. (Getty Images)


Matt Kemp, who hasn’t started since Thursday and isn’t starting today, insists he’s healthy.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly isn’t so sure.

Therein lies the basis for a closed-door meeting Saturday between the two that didn’t thrill Kemp. Who would be thrilled to learn they’re being benched?

Asked Monday if the meeting was helpful or productive, Kemp said, “yeah, any meeting can be productive. He told me what he planned on doing. It is what it is.”

So what is the plan?
Continue reading

Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford isn’t on the National League All-Star ballot.

Carl Crawford

Carl Crawford is batting .222/.231/.317 in 18 games this season. (Associated Press photo)

Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford has appeared in 18 games this season, more than all but six of his teammates. In 2009, he was the Most Valuable Player of the All-Star game.

This year, Crawford is not even on the ballot.

Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig are the three Dodgers outfielders represented on the ballot released this morning.

The rest of the Dodgers’ representatives followed a predictable order: Adrian Gonzalez (first base), Dee Gordon (second base), Hanley Ramirez (shortstop), Juan Uribe (third base) and A.J. Ellis (catcher).

The game will be played at Target Field in Minneapolis on July 15. Designated hitters are allowed for both leagues’ lineups at the All-Star game, and the Dodgers will have that luxury when they visit the Twins for an interleague series next week. There is a good chance that all four outfielders will be in the starting lineup then.

However, Crawford wasn’t on the list of eight names the Dodgers submitted to the league at the beginning of the season.

Voters are allowed to cast up to 25 ballots. Crawford can still be included on the ballot as a write-in candidate but his odds are especially slim. Crawford is batting .211 with a .231 on-base percentage, poor for any hitter — especially one who regularly bats first or second. He’s stolen four bases, but none since April 9.

All four outfielders are struggling at the plate by their own standards. Puig is hitting .254/.338/.437, Kemp .211/.297/.456 and Ethier .194/.247/.284.

Matt Kemp isn’t in the Dodgers’ starting lineup, but Don Mattingly says it wasn’t an easy call.

Below are the career statistics for the Dodgers’ outfielders against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick. Who would you sit?

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP missG
Andre Ethier 25 22 6 2 0 2 7 3 1 .273 .360 .636 .996 0 0 0 0 1
Matt Kemp 15 15 6 0 0 0 1 0 3 .400 .400 .400 .800 0 0 0 0 0
Yasiel Puig 6 6 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 .833 .833 1.333 2.167 0 0 0 0 1
Carl Crawford 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Total 119 111 35 9 1 3 16 6 11 .315 .361 .495 .857 0 0 1 2 7

Unfortunately, your answer doesn’t count because you don’t fill out the lineup card. Don Mattingly does, and he chose to bench Matt Kemp. The question of why led Mattingly down a lengthy rabbit hole about the future of the Dodgers’ so-called “four outfielder problem.”

“Every day, this is really a bit of a problem for the most part,” Mattingly said. “This was not easy because Matt’s done pretty decent. So has Yasiel. All the guys I thought were pretty good. Just trying to do the best we can with it. … There will come a day when … where we’re going to put what we think is our best club.”

Continue reading

Daily Distractions: Why Sunday’s sixth inning encouraged Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.

Andre Ethier

Andre Ethier and Adrian Gonzalez made outs in the sixth inning Sunday, but impressed Don Mattingly in the process. (John McCoy/Staff photographer)

The Dodgers hit four home runs Sunday against the San Francisco Giants, but that’s not what had Don Mattingly excited.

Hanley Ramirez can hit home runs. That’s no revelation. Even Matt Kemp, Mattingly said, had his power swing on display from the time he reported to camp, with his high follow-through leaving many pitching machines in Glendale, Arizona with stratospheric ERAs.

No, what had Mattingly excited was the sixth inning.

Ramirez led off with a double into the left-field corner. Adrian Gonzalez was next up, and he hit a ground ball directly into the Giants’ shift. First baseman Brandon Belt fielded the ball and tossed to pitcher Matt Cain covering first base for the out. That didn’t matter to Mattingly, because Ramirez advanced to third base, then scored on a deeply hit sacrifice fly by Andre Ethier.

“That was a big run for us,” Mattingly said. “They cut it to 4-2 with a couple homers there. Hanley starts the inning with a double, Adrian gets him over with the ground ball, Andre gets him in. Sometimes last year we didn’t get that done very well. I was encouraged by that tonight.”

Indeed, the biggest complaint about the Dodgers’ offense for the first six weeks of 2013 was its lack of situational hitting. On June 14, the Dodgers were 10 games below .500 and averaging 3.5 runs per game. From June 15 on, they averaged 4.3 runs per game. The arrivals of Yasiel Puig and Ramirez were integral. They added two dimensions the offense lacked, speed and power. More importantly, they didn’t make as many outs as the men they replaced. By extension, the Dodgers had more runners on base and had more success moving them over. Their situational hitting improved.

The Dodgers might never have another inning like the sixth this season. But if it becomes a trend, that’s one less way a lineup full of superstars can fail to score.

Some bullet points for an International Beaver Day:
Continue reading