The Los Angeles Dodgers celebrated their 2014 Fan Fest on Saturday and fans got to see many of their favorite players like Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. The latter has been a frequent resident of the disabled list as the baseball gods have frowned upon Kemp for the last two seasons. Coming off of ankle surgery in October, there is still a huge question looming: Will Kemp be healthy enough to play on Opening Day?
Saturday’s Fan Fest was not only a great time for fans to interact with the team, but also for reporters to get the inside scoop on Kemp’s status:
Matt Kemp doesn’t know when he’ll start running or when he’ll play in his first game.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) February 1, 2014
Given his ankle surgery, the fact that Kemp is not yet running is not all too surprising. Only about three months removed from his repair, it is positive to find out what else Hernandez reported: “Kemp is hitting every day. He has also been throwing.”
Matt Kemp said he hasn’t started running yet. He ruled out playing Opening Day at less than 100 percent.
— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) February 1, 2014
As Ken Gurnick reported that Kemp admitted that he returned from his injuries too quickly last year, Hoornstra’s news about Kemp’s patience is rather intriguing. If Kemp holds to his word and will not play unless truly confident that he is 100%, his status on Opening Day is highly questionable. The opening series in Australia will take place almost exactly five months from the date of Kemp’s surgery.
Given the amount of time he will have had to recover, rehabilitate and prepare for the 2014 MLB season, I believe Kemp will be ready by Opening Day. With the outfielder already hitting and throwing, we have two clear signs that his ankle is nearing complete recovery. Kemp is a competitor, always eager to get back in the lineup, and manager Don Mattingly should have the luxury of penciling Kemp in on Opening Day.