(Photo by-Alex Gallardo/AP)
The past two seasons have been very unstable for Los Angeles Dodgers superstar outfielder Matt Kemp. Kemp battled several injuries including shoulder, hamstring, and an ankle that resulted in surgeries.
After battling through rehab assignments, simulation activities, there was a point for many fans if we’ll see the Matt Kemp of 2011 again. After overcoming an off season of many trade rumors seeing Kemp out of Los Angeles, the Dodgers made it clear that they have confidence that Kemp could still perform at a high level when healthy.
Kemp skipped the trip to Australia, stayed stateside in Arizona at Camelback Ranch to continue to rehab and work on his game. The ever ready star made it clear he was an everyday outfielder, despite the plans that manager Don Mattingly may have had dealing with a four man outfield.
Kemp reminded everyone that BeastMode is alive and well on Sunday in the 6-2 victory over the rival San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium.
“That’s when I know I’m seeing the ball good, when I drive the ball to right field like that,” Kemp told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “That’s my swing right there.”
In the second inning Kemp connected on home run over the wall in left field. Later in the fourth inning, Kemp crushed a fastball off of Matt Cain, for a tow run homer over the right field wall.
Kemp was back, and he let everyone know it in a big way.
He struck the ball with confidence in batting practice during spring and before games in the regular season.
“We’ve got a long road ahead of us,” Kemp said. “But I hope the beast is back.“
Kemp showed no effects from his off season surgery, and before Sunday’s game, hadn’t homered at Dodger Stadium since September 2012.
Kemp had surgery on his left shoulder last season from running into a wall at Coors Field in Colorado, chasing down a ball. He returned for the 2013 season, only playing in 73 games due to hamstring and ankle issues.
Now Kemp is focused on the 2014 season, and plans to go healthy all season, helping the Dodgers win a World Series Titles, and as many games along the way.
“I just feel great,” Kemp said. “Let’s just talk about this win and go on to the next thing.”
If Kemp can bring this offensive stability every game, along with Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig swinging the bat every night, the Dodgers could have one of the most powerful line ups in baseball.
Zack Greinke picked up the victory over the Giants also shared his thoughts on the importance of Kemp in the line up. “I’ve never seen Matt being the player he is,” Greinke said. “And Hanley is on a different level. If he’s like he was today, you don’t want to face this lineup if that’s the case.”
Once Clayton Kershaw and Brian Wilson return healthy that will also bring some strong depth into the bullpen for the Dodgers.
Kemp is truly an everyday outfielder, it would be incredibly incumbent of Mattingly to see to it that Kemp gets as much playing time as possible. It’s great seeing Kemp back in the line up, his presence was truly missed the past two seasons.
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and outfielder Yasiel Puig continue to build their relationship with one another, after some controversial comments were made by Mattingly during the Australia trip.
Puig went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs in Sunday’s 7-5 win against the Diamondbacks. After a ninth inning strike out, Puig left the game and headed to the locker room.
Mattingly told reporters after the Dodgers victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, about Puig’s status with the team.
“I guess his back. Shoulder yesterday, back today, so I’m not sure if they’re going to get him tests or get him to the MRI Monday or a bone scan on Tuesday, maybe. I’m not quite sure what we’ll do. We may not do anything.”
Of course cooler heads prevailed and after a conversation with Puig, Mattingly said “We’re good. I’ve got no issues with Yasiel.” Both met with each other on Tuesday to iron everything out
Mattingly went on to say, “I know Yasiel is a huge lightning rod, and anything I say is a huge story and anything he does is a huge story. Maybe I should have been more clear — the before and after were two different things.“
After returning to Los Angeles, Puig received an MRI on his lower back that showed no damage, however did receive treatment. He’s expected to be ready and playing in the season opener against the San Diego Padres on March 30th.
Puig is still learning the system, but is a huge talent that will continue to improve over time.
Dodgers starter Hyun Jin Ryu could miss his next start against the Padres due to a torn toenail that he suffered in Australia. Ryu make a sudden and quick stop at third base against the Diamondback, where the injury occurred.
Mattingly said that they will make an official ruling on Ryu’s status closer to his start day.
Coming off a phenomenal 2013 season that resulted in the Los Angeles Dodgers appearing the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, and Clayton Kershaw acquired his second Cy Young award.
Kershaw also made news when he signed his sever year, $215 million deal, he makes his debut today in his Cactus League debut.
“It’s not a normal Spring Training,” Kershaw told MLB.com. “Tomorrow we’re, in a sense, in the middle of things. We’ve got 19 [days of spring training games] before we play a game that counts. We’ve got to feel some sense of urgency.”
The team along with Kershaw have worked out but lacked energy according to manager Don Mattingly. However Mattingly is hopefully that the Dodgers will pick up their intensity as the season gets closer to beginning. Last season the Dodgers played approximately 36 games.
Kershaw is scheduled not to participate in the games in Australia in order to lighten his work load this season. The Dodgers have a less than a month before they face the Arizona Diamondbacks in a early regular season matchup.
“We’ve got to feel some sense of urgency,” said Kershaw regarding the regular season.
The Dodgers also participated in some interleague games on Monday and Tuesday, before today’s Cactus league game in order to get into baseball rhythm.
Along with Kershaw starting on the mound, Alex Guerrero will start at second base and bat second, along with Yasiel Puig batting third. Chone Figgins makes his Dodger debut as the lead off hitter on Wednesday.
During the 2014 Dodgers Fan Fest at Dodger Stadium, Yasiel Puig addressed some off the field issues with SportNetLA host Alanna Rizzo.
Rizzo interpreted for Puig, when she asked him about the latest speeding and reckless driving charge in Florida, that was recently dropped.
“Nada“, Puig joked in front of the crowd. “I was driving fast. It was my fault. I’m not ever going to drive fast. Or slow. I now have a driver. I want to apologize to the city of Los Angeles and to these fans. I’m done with speeding.“
This was the second incident that involved reckless driving, where he was cited for driving 110 mph in a 70 mph zone. The first incident happened when he was a member of the AA Chattanooga Lookouts, when he drove approximately 97 mph in a 50 mph zone.
Puig continues to mature and grow as a player on and off the field, and as the Dodgers have been patient with him, so do many of the fans and society. The culture is new to him, and the 23 year old has taken a step in the right direction by hiring his cousin to drive him around.
Puig has been visual this off season, whether it’s been working out with teammate, pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu, or assisting kids around the Los Angeles area with baseball clinics.
Puig finished second in the rookie of the year voting behind Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins. He hit .319 with 19 home runs last season.
He was the boost of energy the Dodgers needed last season, and the team hopes he can continue to be that on and off the field.
Puig is loved by fans, and as he exited the stage, threw his hat into the crowd as fans scrambled to capture it.
Hyun Jin Ryu out pitched Adam Wainwright in a pitchers duel, along with Yasiel Puig breaking out of his slump with a huge hit that aided the Dodgers over the St Louis Cardinals 3-0.
The Dodgers still trail the Cards 2-1 in the NLCS series, and still have games four and five at Dodger Stadium.
“The playoffs are one-day momentum swings,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Right now I feel like we’ve kind of grabbed it.”
The Dodgers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the fourth inning thanks to an RBI double to right that scored Mark Ellis.
Yasiel Puig connected on a pitch he thought would leave the Ravine, watched it sail into right raising his hands in excitement. Puig later saw it bounce off the wall and began to run the bases and ended up at third while clapping his hands igniting the sellout crowd. Carlos Beltran misplayed the ball that bounced off the wall and afforded Puig the triple.
Beltran spoke about the celebration of Puig during that play, “I’m in the outfield,” he said. “I mean, it’s not great. To me, I don’t like it. But what can I say? I don’t play for them. I just play over here. I just need to do my job. It is what it is. As a player, I just think he doesn’t know about how to act.”
Hanley Ramirez obviously felt differently about his fellow teammate, “he brings unbelievable energy every day. When we spoke to him, he told me, ‘I got it today,’ and he did. He’s a great player.”
With Puig stepping out of his slump, the Dodgers got another boost with Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez returned to the line up, which provided them an added boost of momentum and offense.
Ramirez connected on a hit off Wainwright, Carl Crawford burned the bases as he barely beat a tag from Cards catcher Yadier Molina that extended the Dodgers lead in the eight inning 3-0.
“What can I say? It couldn’t be better,” Ramirez said. “Really happy we got the first win. Just come back tomorrow and even up the series.”
Kanley Jansen pitched a perfect inning and picked up the save for the victory.
Adam Wainwright began the game 4-0, picked up the loss. He pitched seven innings and gave up two runs, six hits and seven strike outs on the night.
“I felt like tonight if I had got a couple of balls in there, we win the game. I think you just have to tip your hat and move on,” said Wainwright. “I hate to lose like this!”
Ryu was successful in not giving up any runs in the first inning, and picked up his first postseason win as a rookie.
He looked healthier as he sat down 12 out 13 batters on the night. He went seven great innings, gave up three hits along with capturing four strikeouts.
“It’s definitely a big motivation when you see your star players go out there hurt,” Ryu said through a translator. “It really inspires you and motivates you to go out there and do the best you can.”
The Cards didn’t get their first hit until the fifth inning when David Freese got a base hit to right.
“We just had a lot of balls in the air tonight that hit the ground that normally don’t,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “We’re a better club than this.”
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (15-9) returned to dominate form on Saturday night against the San Diego Padres, who had no offense nor answer for Kershaw.
AJ Ellis and Yasiel Puig stepped up with huge home runs, that elevated the Dodgers over the Padres 4-0 in front of a near sellout crowd.
“I felt good, so I guess that’s a bonus. A little bit erratic at first with the fastball but A.J. did a real good job of making me use all my pitches on both sides of the plate,” said Kershaw.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly pushed back a previous start that allowed Kershaw rest for the upcoming playoffs.
The Dodgers offense clicked in the fourth inning when AJ Ellis blasted a two run home run off Padres rookie starter Burch Smith for the 2-0 lead.
Kershaw remained untouchable as he sat down 14 out of 15 batters.
Yasiel Puig launched a two run home run all the way to La Mesa that made it 4-0 in the seventh inning.
Since Greg Maddox achieved this milestone from 1993-95, Kershaw is trying to become the first pitcher to lead the majors in ERA for three straight seasons.
Ronald Belisario and Brian Wilson pitched flawless innings for the Dodgers in the win.
“San Diego is a tough team. They battle me. They put good at-bats on me and always seem to get my pitch count up. I felt good to finally get a win against these guys,” said Kershaw.
Burch Smith (1-2) gave up two and three hits in six innings of work in the loss.
The last Dodger pitcher to finish below 2.00 ERA was Sandy Koufax with 1.73 ERA in 1966 according to Stats LLC.
Yasiel Puig took an early exit during the Rockies verses Dodgers game on Monday afternoon, due to a right knee strain.
Puig had battled knee soreness for the past couple of weeks, aggravated it as he slid into third base after an Adrian Gonzalez single.
Puig played like a warrior after getting hit by a pitch in the back, he also scored in the sixth inning on sacrifice fly. Both Puig and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly don’t expect him to be out long, and there is no MRI scheduled.
“I’m going to get treatment tonight and we’ll see how it feels Wednesday,” Puig said through an interpreter.
Puig will be listed as day to day, however with the win on Monday, the Dodgers extended their lead to 11.5 games. They will take the necessary precautions to ensure that Puig is healthy for the playoffs. He’s currently hitting .351 with 14 home runs and 32 RBI’s on the season thus far.