Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp has struggled since returning from a serious ankle injury, but is now beginning to show signs of life. On Saturday night at home against the Colorado Rockies, Kemp took another step in the right direction.
Starting in centerfield for the fifth time in six days, Kemp had a good night, doubling and homering while scoring a run and driving in another, raising his batting average to .219 in the process. The home run was his fourth of the season, and he also stole his third base of the year for good measure. The Dodgers must be encouraged by such a performance, which could indicate that Kemp has turned a corner.
The Dodgers have something of a logjam in the outfield at the moment, with four quality outfielders, including the enigmatic Yasiel Puig, competing for three positions. While an overabundance of talent certainly can’t be construed as a negative, it does pose a problem for the Dodgers, as it may be difficult to keep everyone happy for an extended period of time. Kemp has publicly acknowledged his desire to play on an everyday basis, which he had before injuries derailed his career over the previous two seasons.
When completely healthy, Kemp was one of the most dynamic players in the MLB. His 2011 season was spectacular, as he posted ridiculous numbers that included 39 homers, 126 RBI and 40 steals to go along with a .324 batting average. Of course, Kemp has been riddled with a variety of injuries since then, forcing him to miss a total of 145 games over the past two seasons.
The Dodgers would love nothing more than to see Kemp return to form, but it remains to be seen if the outfielder can handle the rigors of playing everyday again. The irony is that Kemp was one of the more durable players in baseball before the injuries began to surface. The talent is clearly still there, but it will be interesting to see if Kemp can hold up physically, as well as how the Dodgers will use him going forward.