The Los Angeles Dodgers’ outfielder, Matt Kemp, addressed the haters and critics who think the former standout performer is going to struggle to find playing time in the 2014 MLB season. Kemp laid down the cold hard truth in his statement Friday: “I’m not a fourth outfielder. We can cut that off right now. I won’t accept that role. I can’t accept that role.”
Kemp is adamant about being an everyday player in the Dodgers’ lineup and I wholeheartedly support his stance. Even if Kemp is not ready to go on Opening Day as I said I believed he would at the beginning of this month, he will work his way back into the starting lineup.
Kemp is a competitor who will not take a backseat view of another Dodgers’ playoff run. The 29-year-old native of Oklahoma missed much of the last two seasons battling a number of injuries. When his return to the lineup seemed possible, the only thing that stopped him was a setback in which his doctors told Kemp that continuing to play could result in a broken ankle.
When Kemp finally does get back to playing form, it will not take long for the deserving winner of the 2011 NL MVP Award – I’m still mad at you, Ryan Braun – to remind manager Don Mattingly and opposing pitchers why he is so deadly at the plate. In the two seasons since his amazing year, Kemp has played in 179 games, batted .290 and reached base safely 35% of the time. Inconsistent playing time and battling through quick returns from injuries plagued him in the past, but Kemp only has room to improve on his solid numbers when he returns to full health.
With Yasiel Puig being the young sparkplug that he is, you can expect Mattingly to pencil the Cuban into the lineup on a regular basis along with Kemp. From there, the decision comes down to either Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier. While it is tough to argue that 50-50 toss up, Ethier is more likely to earn the most playing time and retain his status as a Dodger favorite. The one thing that is indeed for sure is Kemp’s inevitable return to greatness.
When the 2014 MLB season is in full swing, do not be surprised to find Matt Kemp fulfilling his own prophecy. Kemp will return to form and will not play second fiddle to Puig, Ethier or Crawford.