(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.
The season will start just a bit early this year for the Los Angeles Dodgers thanks to Major League Baseball going global. MLB decided to expand the brand and use the Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks to promote the sport in Australia.
The two rival teams will play at Sydney Cricket Ground on March 22-23. The two teams have built a huge rivalry in the last two years, which will make for great competition amongst their Australian fans.
Clayton Kershaw gets the start in the first game, while Hyun Jin Ryu gets the start in the second game. Ryu replaces Zack Greinke who left a Spring Training game last week with a strained right calf. Greinke who was never fully in support of the trip Down Under, and will not travel with the team.
Greinke is scheduled to begin bullpen throwing sessions this week at Camelback Ranch.
The Dodgers are scheduled to depart for Australia next Sunday.
Dodgers starter Zack Greinke left yesterday’s game after four pitches, due to a mild calf strain in his right leg.
Greinke struck out Tony Campana, and threw a few pitches to Cliff Pennington before Don Mattingly decided to retire Greinke for the afternoon.
Greinke felt some tightness in his calf, “we deal with small stuff all the time, and I think that’s what this is. We’ll see, but that’s my guess,” said Greinke. “I’d still be pitching if this were a regular season game.”
Greinke made sure to let his thoughts be known how he was in favor of his team taking the long trip to Australia.
Since then Greinke has relaxed his stance on the down under issue, sort of.
“If we’re going to be there, I want to pitch,” Greinke said. “My vote if we had to go over there, was not going. But more people wanted to go than not, so now that we are going, I want to be there. I don’t want to not go and have the rest of the team play with me sitting here watching. I also don’t want to go there and not pitch.”
Each day Greinke will go through ice and theraphy related treatment on his calf, until a diagnosis can be reached.
He will be ready to pitch again in time for the regular season.
Contemplating holding out Clayton Kershaw during the two game trip in Australia, Dan Haren has opportunity to get his first start as a Dodger. With Kershaw and possibly Zack Greinke out, the Dodgers are more likely to start Haren and Hyun Jin Ryu against Arizona.
“Going over there, it’s going to be tough, but we have to think of the games, they’re real regular-season games so we have to turn the switch on,” Haren said. “In regards to the actual trip, it’s going to be a lot to handle, especially for the starting pitchers.”
Haren hasn’t been approached as of yet, but if asked he is looking forward to competing in one of the two regular season games.
With the series being played down under, both the Diamondbacks and Dodgers lose one home game this season.
The Dodgers would have less than a week off before the finish out their Spring Training with a three game series with the Los Angeles Angels on March 27-29.
The Dodgers open up their regular season in San Deigo against the Padres on March 30th.
Zack Greinke is not exactly enthusiastic about pitching down under this coming March.
“I would say there is absolutely zero excitement for it,” Greinke told ESPNLA.com. “There just isn’t any excitement to it. I can’t think of one reason to be excited for it.”
With the team already focused on shortening Clayton Kershaw’s workload, now they must also focus on lightening up the load for Greinke. He is their number two starting pitcher, and the season beginning early could throw off his rhythm slightly.
The Australian games are to be played on March 22 and 23, and the Dodgers leave camp approximately a week early from the Camelback Ranch facility.
Greinke is not stubborn enough to rule out the possibility that he’ll play in the two games, “it’s a baseball thing. It’s an ownership thing, spreading stuff around.”
With Kershaw pitchng 259 innings last season including the playoff, the team can’t afford to burn out their number starter either. Which leaves the opportunity for starters Dan Haren, Hyun Jin Ryu and whoever the Dodgers select as their fifth starter to showcase their work.
With the new schedule the Dodgers now play approximately 15 less games in the Spring, which allows 2 starts less for pitchers to fine tune and get ready for the coming season.
“Zack has this endearing, contrarian quality to him that we all know and love about him,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten told ESPN.com. “He’s famously focused and meticulous about his training regimen. It’s what makes him so good and such a great teammate. This is clearly going to alter his routine. I understand that aspect of it.”
The Dodgers are in one of the most heated battles since claiming the NL West division last season, in attempting to acquire Masahiro Tanaka from Japan.
The Dodgers are in competition with several other teams, but remain the front runner with the New York Yankees as suitors for Tanaka.
The contract for Tanaka could go as high as $100 million, although the Dodgers remain somewhat tight lipped about the ongoing negotiations, don’t count them out for a moment.
Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said that the two sides speak daily, and are committed to possibly bringing in the Japanese phenom. The Dodgers vowed several weeks ago that they would not be outbid, and even though they aren’t going as heavy for Tanaka like they did with Hyun Jin Ryu, they have their target locked in.
The Dodgers have the money and flexibility to sign Tanaka, however one gem could be in their favor, is Tanaka’s wife who wishes to stay on the West Coast to further her music career.
If Tanaka joined the Dodgers, they would have one of the most feared and solid rotations in baseball. Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, Hyun Jin Ryu, along with a solid relief rotation, could be dominate for years to come.
Whatever team signs Tanaka has to complete his physical by 5PM EST on Jan 25th.
Between the solid clutch performance of starter Zack Greinke and two home runs powered by Adrian Gonzalez, the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4. Which now forces a game six back in St. Louis on Friday.
Greinke didn’t start begin with his best pitching, however he worked himself out of a bases loaded jam that ended the first inning.
On the brink of elimination, the Dodgers came out with a sense of urgency, as Juan Uribe connected on a single to center that scored Adrian Gonzalez for the 1-0 lead. Greinke helped his own cause when he connected on a single to left that scored Yasiel Puig for the 2-0 as the crowd erupted in celebration.
“That was big. I was real nervous out there with that situation,” Greinke said.
The Cards would quiet the Dodger Stadium crowd when they charged back with two runs of their own in the third, when Carlos Beltran knocked out a RBI triple and Matt Holiday connected on an RBI single.
The Dodgers exploded in the next few innings with home runs from Gonzalez, AJ Ellis, and Carl Crawford for the huge 6-2 lead.
“Guys weren’t ready to lose today,” said Crawford.
When Gonzalez went back to the dugout after his second home run, brought his hands behind his ears and wiggled them like mouse ears. A clear gesture towards the comments that were made in Game 4 by pitcher Adam Wainwright about Gonzalez doing “Mickey Mouse stuff”.
“It’s just having fun,” Gonzalez said. “I’m going to retire them so they’re not talked about once again.”
Brian Wilson had a brilliant performance shutdown performance in the eight inning against the Cards. Wilson’s stock continued to rise with that masterful performance, and his efforts throughout the series.
Kenley Jansen came in the ninth inning and struggled when he gave up two RBI singles to Mike Adams and Pete Kozma that made it a two run game. Jansen settled down for the final out that allowed the Dodgers to live for another game.
The Dodgers trailed the Cards 3-2 in the best of seven series.
Greinke pitched seven concrete innings, allowing two runs on six hits with four strike outs in the win.
“He wasn’t as sharp as he was the first time we faced him,” Beltran said about Greinke. “But guys like that, the best guys in the game, they’re able to regroup and find a way to help their team win.”
Cards starter Joe Kelly gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings of work in the loss.
“We had a couple of opportunities to do something, and we just couldn’t make it happen,” manager Mike Matheny said.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had a slightly different outlook on the next upcoming games in St. Louis.
“We’ve kind of become America’s team because everyone wants to see a seventh game,” Mattingly said. “Probably even the fans in St. Louis would like to see a seventh game, so I figure that everybody’s for us to win on Friday night.”