Matt Kemp is inching closer to returning, and it couldn’t be better for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that Kemp is currently at step 6-of-7 in his recovery and is inching closer to playing in a game; Kemp underwent two surgeries this past offseason to repair a few nagging injuries from the 2013 season.
When healthy, Kemp is one of the best players in all of baseball. He has the freakish ability to hit for average and power, steal bases, field and throw. He’s the modern day example of a five tool player.
Unfortunately for Dodger fans, the “five tool” Kemp that most were expecting to see never showed up during the 2013 season. The star center fielder was only able to play in 73 games last season and was a disappointment for the most part. It was obvious that Kemp’s decline in 2013 wasn’t a product of anything he did, but instead a result of the multiple injuries obtained by the player.
If Kemp can return to the 2011 form that saw him hit for a .324 average, belt 39 home runs, drive in 126 runs and win a gold glove, the Dodgers would be a near lock to make it to the playoffs.
While Kemp can be one of the best in the game, he faces an uphill battle in his return. The Dodgers are loaded with outfield talent. Kemp has to compete with a Cuban Phenom Yasiel Puig and two former All-Stars, Andre Either and Carl Crawford, for playing time this year. Puig is all but guaranteed to be an everyday player for the Dodgers, so Kemp’s true battle is with Crawford and Either.
Kemp is the Dodgers’ best player when healthy. If his recovery from the injuries has gone well, he should have no problem winning the starting center field job this year.
For the sake of Dodger fans worldwide, let’s hope Kemp’s return is a triumphant one.
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