THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
MLB: DODGERS HOME OPENING SERIES
vs. SAN FRANCISCO
At Dodger Stadium, Friday (1:10 p.m., SportsNet L.A.), Saturday (1:10 p.m., Fox Sports 1), Sunday (5 p.m., ESPN2):
In the Dodgers’ hot-off-the-press 2014 media guide, the listing for Matt Kemp goes eight pages deep. He’s 22 home runs shy of matching Willie Davis for second on the Dodgers’ all-time franchise list for center fielders, behind Duke Snider. Could that happen this season? Kemp is also 34 games short of 1,000 in his career. Again, that could happen this year, right? His history of appearances on the disabled list is actually somewhat short – for 2013, for example, it lists just May 30-June 25 (mild right hamstring strain), July 6-21 (left AC joint inflammation) and July 22-Sept. 16 (left ankle sprain). That’s because not included there is the Sept. 29 decision to shut him down for a left-ankle injury – eliminating him right before the playoffs. That required surgery on Oct. 21, which was two weeks after he underwent a “left shoulder cleanup on his A-C joint.”
Kemp’s 2014 spring training was a constant slow-moving process as well, with another return to the 15-day DL, making him unavailable for the two-game opener in Australia. Unless there’s any giant setback, the 29-year-old will finally get to start his eighth big-league season when the Dodgers play their home opener against the Giants. Rihanna or not, Khloe or no other Kardashian, he says he’s ready.
“Rehab sucks,” Kemp declared before last Friday’s exhibition game against the Angels. “I’m not missing anything now. I’m ready to go.” A rehab assignment could happen also, pushing his return sometime beyond this early April target date. “I want him to be totally confident when he goes out on the field that he can be Matt Kemp,” says manager Don Mattingly. Confidence doesn’t seem to be what Kemp lacks – it’s stability as well as ability. According to the Dodgers’ DL, Josh Beckett is also eligible to come off on Friday. With Clayton Kershaw out of action until at least the first full week of April, Beckett could be back to fill this spot. This series is also important because some predict that the Giants will provide the main obstacles in the Dodgers’ pursuit of repeating as the NL West champs. The other implication of this matchup: Will most all of Southern California have the team’s new SportsNet L.A. channel by this time? If not, there could be more heck to pay.
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