Dodgers’ Matt Kemp looking to come back 100 percent healthy

first_imgNot long ago, Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp was a model of health and consistency, his contract was the largest on the team, and it was his job to pick up the dinner tabs in spring training.Now that job belongs to $215 million man Clayton Kershaw, the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history.“He owes me a suit,” Kemp said. Kemp believes he’s still an elite baseball player. He’s three years removed from a National League MVP runner-up season and even less distantly removed from playing 399 consecutive games. Since that streak ended Kemp has spent more time on the disabled list than on the field, yet he can certainly command a crowd, as he demonstrated at the Dodgers’ FanFest on Saturday. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error After missing 87 regular-season games and all of October last year with a strained hamstring, a sprained ankle and a surgically repaired shoulder that was never 100 percent, Kemp vowed not to rush back from any injuries this season.“I’ve got to make sure I’m healthy and everything is good,” Kemp said. “I’m not going to rush it. When it’s right it’s right, and that’s when I’ll be playing. I don’t have a timetable right now.”That might mean missing Opening Day in Australia on March 22. For all the progress he’s made this offseason, Kemp still isn’t running. His cardio activity has been limited to work on an AlterG machine, an anti-gravity treadmill. Under the circumstances, playing a regular-season game in seven weeks seems unrealistic. Kemp admitted that he came back too soon each time he went on the disabled list in 2013: In June, when he strained his right hamstring; in July when he was diagnosed with inflammation in his left AC joint; and in September when he tried to play through the ankle sprain.“I don’t want get hurt, come back at 80 percent, get hurt again, come back at 90 percent. I want to be at 100 percent the whole year,” he said.center_img Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he believes Kemp will stay true to his word. “You have injuries over a couple years, you really get tired of not being out there. I think he’ll make sure he’s ready,” Mattingly said. “I just know, going through injuries, that once you go through that, it’s no fun. People start to doubt you just because you’re not on the field. They kind of forget. Two years ago Matt’s the greatest thing on the planet. He has two years of basically being hurt. All of a sudden everybody wants to doubt Matt.”Ellis re-signsThe Dodgers avoided arbitration with catcher A.J. Ellis on Saturday, agreeing to a 1-year, $3.55 million contract.Ellis requested a $4.6 million salary when figures were exchanged Jan. 17; the Dodgers countered with $3.0 million. He’ll earn something below the exact midpoint ($3.8 million) but still gets a nice raise over his $2 million salary from 2013.The 32-year-old batted .238/.318/.364 in 115 games last season, while his 3.06 catchers’ ERA led all major-league starters.Closer Kenley Jansen is the Dodgers’ only remaining arbitration-eligible player. He’s requested a $5.05 million salary and the Dodgers have countered at $3.5 million. Asked Saturday if he anticipates a deal getting done before the two sides head to arbitration, general manager Ned Colletti said only that “it takes two.”Said Jansen: “If it has to go that way, it has to go that way.”Also…Dodger Stadium is in the process of being fitted for a long-awaited wi-fi network. President Stan Kasten expects the project to be complete by Opening Day. … The field also has to be re-sodded on account of the damage caused by NHL game between the Kings and Ducks last Saturday. … Pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu said he’s lost weight from the 255 pounds he carried last year. … Colletti said he’s “still listening a little bit” to agents for starting pitchers. He all but ruled out giving a 1- or 2-year contract to a pitcher who would cost the team a draft pick, such as Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez. … Colletti said he hopes to sign a utility infielder to a minor-league contract with a major-league invitation in the next five days.last_img

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