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Joe Torre admits to difficult relationship with Matt Kemp

Apr 10, 2012, 8:00 PM EDT

Joe Torre - Dodgers AP

Joe Torre called Matt Kemp the game’s best player in a conversation with ESPN Los Angeles’ Tony Jackson on Tuesday, but he indicated it might have taken his departure as Dodgers manager for Kemp to take that next step.

Kemp had his breakthrough season in 2011 after Don Mattingly replaced Torre as manager.

“He was challenging because just like a lot of young players, they are going to make adjustments on their own, but he was so talented — and again, this is just my opinion — that I think he just felt his ability was going to speak for itself,” Torre said. “He sort of eliminated the highs and lows once he got established in a more businesslike way. I know he and Donnie have a good relationship, which is hugely important.

“I remember telling him as I was saying goodbye when I stopped managing, ‘You’re going to love playing for Donnie.’ “

Torre said that he and Kemp “didn’t always agree” but that the did keep “working” at their relationship. “Let’s put it that way,” he added.

Kemp finished with OPSs of .799, .842 and .760 in Torre’s three years as Dodgers manager before coming in at .986 last year. He’s off to a fantastic start in 2012 as well, having driven in a run in five straight to begin the season.

  1. koufaxmitzvah - Apr 10, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    Let’s see…. More distracting… Joe Torre or Rihanna… Hmmmmm……

    Yeah. Sorry, Joe.

  2. Jeff M. - Apr 10, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    For a guy that had such a great reputation as a media savvy manager, Joe Torre sure wasn’t… well… very media savvy.

  3. AlohaMrHand - Apr 10, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    When he finally gave Rhianna the boot(wait maybe that was Chris Brown) is when he got his head on straight and became the dominant player he is now.

  4. vallewho - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:22 PM

    Joe can’t keep his mouth shut. Maybe he will write a book about his Dodger years.

    • mississippiguy - Apr 11, 2012 at 12:44 AM

      Sounds like he was quite diplomatic. Honest… but diplomatic. Nothing wrong with that.

  5. cup0pizza - Apr 11, 2012 at 12:51 AM

    Sure miss sleepy Joe napping in the dugout when he wasn’t spacing out picking his nose. Never have seen a manager worse at bullpen management, as well. Old fart was garbage for the Dodgers.

  6. detroitcityryda - Apr 11, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    Best player in the MLB is miggy Cabrera then prince fielder kemp is 3rd.

    • 1overmind - Apr 11, 2012 at 1:45 AM

      Prince Fielder isnt even in the top 10 of best MLB players. he’s just a fat guy that hits homeruns.

      • paperlions - Apr 11, 2012 at 7:27 AM

        That’s not fair, Fielder is also good at not making outs, the single most important position player skill for winning baseball games.

    • redbirdfan81 - Apr 11, 2012 at 6:21 AM

      Seriously? Consider the whole game, not just one aspect. Please learn the game before making statements like this in public. Makes you look rather stupid.

      • fellspointbird - Apr 11, 2012 at 9:39 AM

        With a strongly opinionated comment like that, I must ask what your baseball heirarchy of skills is.

    • davidpom50 - Apr 11, 2012 at 12:45 PM

      If either Miggy or Fielder could play any defense at all, you might have an argument. But… they can’t, while Kemp mans one of the most important defensive positions on the field (with skill ranging from slightly below average to slightly above average, depending on your favorite defensive metric). Also, Kemp runs the bases much better than Miggy or Fielder, and is a better hitter than Fielder. I will give you that Miggy is on the very very short list for best hitter in the MLB.

  7. yahmule - Apr 11, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    More than anything, Joe just wishes he could fill out one more lineup card for the Dodgers with Kemp batting eighth. Must have been great for Kemp, knowing no matter what he did the manager would always look at him with a “Bernie Williams would have done it better” expression on his face.

  8. buffalomafia - Apr 11, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    Joe Torre next Commish! I sure hope George Bush doesn’t get the job!

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