Last week, I urged the Los Angeles Dodgers’ head trainer Sue Falsone and the whole organization not to rush slugger Matt Kemp back from his most recent injury. On Sunday afternoon, exactly 15 days after being placed on the 15-day DL, Kemp showed positive signs of a full recovery.
Kemp led off the top of the second inning with a solo blast to left field that landed about 15 rows deep. The injury which brought Kemp down this time was irritation in the AC joint in his left shoulder. As a right-handed hitter, Kemp’s left hand is the leading hand and he needs that shoulder to be healthy in order to drive down on the baseball. So to see that kind of pop after a shoulder injury is a great sign for Kemp.
After the Dodgers batted around in the second inning, Kemp got the chance to come back up and promptly doubled home Andre Ethier on a shot to left field.
Kemp’s hits would not end there as he hit another ball to the left side for a single and his third RBI of the day. Only three at-bats into the game, Kemp was already three-fourths of the way to hitting for the cycle. Although Kemp did not complete the cycle, he finished the day with a fantastic first game back. Even Kemp’s line drive, which was caught by the left fielder, was clobbered.
The center fielder ended his day 3-for-4 with a walk and three RBIs but had a big scare in the ninth inning as he slid into home plate. Kemp appeared to tweak his ankle and came up limping. However, the team said X-rays were not necessary. Despite reports of Kemp still walking very gingerly on his foot in the clubhouse after the game as described by the tweet below, Kemp reportedly said he does not think he will need to go on the DL again.
Just watching Kemp walk around clubhouse, he can put hardly any pressure on his ankle
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) July 21, 2013
Hopefully this is just a day or two setback at most. Having weak ankles myself, I know that even pretty bad twists can be played on in a couple days.
An amazing day at the plate is just the beginning of what could be the turnaround point of Kemp’s season. If you have read my articles previously, you will know that I called out both the San Francisco Giants’ Tim Lincecum after his no-hitter as well as the Dodgers’ own Juan Uribe after his big seven-RBI game. I claimed that neither of these veterans’ amazing performances would be turnaround points.
The difference between Kemp and these two players is that Kemp is an incredibly gifted athlete who, despite having recent troubles, has merely struggled to get back into the flow after recovering from several injuries. Uribe is an aging player who just does not have what it takes to be an elite ballplayer anymore and Lincecum is a former star who lost the ability to dominate a couple of years ago. Kemp might finally be getting his groove back starting with this breakout performance. Move over, Stella!
Isaac Comelli is a Los Angeles Dodgers writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @IsaacComelli, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+. You can see all of his articles here.