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Matt Kemp: “I’m not a fourth outfielder”

Feb 14, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

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Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp has played in 179 of a possible 324 regular season games over the past two years due to [background changes from night to day, summer to winter while I recount] a strained left hamstring, a right knee contusion, a frayed labrum in his left shoulder (which required surgery in October 2012), inflammation of the AC joint in his left shoulder, a sprained left ankle, debridement of the AC joint in his left shoulder (required surgery in October 2013), and surgery to repair a bone spur, get rid of loose bodies, and heal a microfracture in the talus bone in his left ankle.

Manager Don Mattingly doesn’t believe Kemp will be ready for the Dodgers’ season opener against the Diamondbacks in Australia on March 22, according to MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. Kemp hasn’t run yet on his surgically-repaired ankle. Thankfully for the Dodgers, they have three fully capable and healthy outfielders in Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, and Yasiel Puig. The more time Kemp misses, the easier it will be for the Dodgers — who still owe him $128 million through 2019 — to slide him into a bench role, and eventually pursue a trade.

According to ESPN’s Mark Saxon, Kemp says he “won’t accept that role”.

“I’m not a fourth outfielder. We can cut that off right there,” Kemp said. “I won’t accept that role. I can’t accept that role.”

We are moving into the third season since Kemp nearly won the NL MVP award, leading the league with 39 home runs and 126 RBI along with an impressive adjusted OPS of 172. He was even productive in 2012 as he succumbed to injuries, hitting .303 with a .906 OPS. But his numbers plummeted in 2013. His power vanished, he was essentially a non-factor on the bases, and his mastery of the strike zone weakened.

Kemp is still only 29 years old, and he very well may have plenty of productive seasons ahead of him if he can stay healthy. The Dodgers, well-constructed to stampede through the NL West, don’t need to wait to see if Kemp can handle the rigors of a 162-game season, though. As such, Kemp may end up a part-timer whether he likes it or not.

  1. rbj1 - Feb 14, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    Ah, our first Spring Training controversy.

    • mmeyer3387 - Feb 14, 2014 at 7:16 PM

      Kemp has put up some great numbers and won the MVP just a few years ago.That being said, he has put together a lot of games missed because of health issues. As a fan I would love to see him come back healthy putting up MVP numbers again. But only time will tell.

      • Professor Fate - Feb 14, 2014 at 9:09 PM

        ” In 2011, Kemp led the National League in runs scored (115), total bases (353), OPS+ (171), WAR (7.8), home runs (39), and runs batted in (126). Additionally, he became the first player to finish in the top two in both home runs and steals since Hank Aaron in 1963. He has been named to two All-Star teams and has won two Gold Glove Awards (2009 and 2011) and two Silver Slugger Awards (2009 and 2011).”

        Appropriate that he won the Hank Aaron Award. As far as I know he has not ever won an MVP. He finished 10th in ’09 and second (controversially) to Ryan Braun in ’11.

        For a guy that hasn’t been reliably consistent for the past couple of years, and has a huge contract, he should probably just shut up and get back to work. If you can stay on the field, Matt, you’ll be a regular outfielder. Saying it doesn’t make it so.

  2. nymets4ever - Feb 14, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    Wonder if the Mets could swing a deal for him without giving up Syndergaard. This guy would be a rockstar in NY.

    • paperlions - Feb 15, 2014 at 9:07 AM

      Kemp is worth far less than the remainder of his contract. The Mets should be able to get him for minor prospects even if the Dodgers eat some of the contract.

  3. dhalb34 - Feb 14, 2014 at 6:13 PM

    You are a fourth outfielder if you’re made of glass and can’t stay healthy.

  4. asimonetti88 - Feb 14, 2014 at 6:16 PM

    When he’s healthy he is a pretty good player, but he needs to prove he’s healthy first. Until then, he’s a fourth outfielder simply because he can’t be counted on to stay healthy.

    • mmeyer3387 - Feb 14, 2014 at 7:20 PM

      I agree, he makes me wonder if he would be better off being a DH in the American League. Still, I wish him well.

  5. tfbuckfutter - Feb 14, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    He’s right.

    Fourth outfielders are usually available when needed.

  6. alwaysaharley33 - Feb 14, 2014 at 6:48 PM

    Matt is not a 4th outfielder and he will be our everyday center fielder, when he returns. Matt don’t fall for that reporter stuff man get healthy and the rest will fall into place. (209) Dodger fan

    • davidpom50 - Feb 14, 2014 at 7:08 PM

      Matt is still an MVP caliber player when healthy. And his health issues mostly stem from two freak collisions – the wall in Colorado in 2012 destroyed his shouler, and the slide into the catcher destroyed his ankle. The hamstring strains were the result of rushing back to playing before being fully healthy. He’ll be fine, he’ll be a superstar, he’ll join a ridiculously stacked Dodger team

      • brewcrewfan54 - Feb 14, 2014 at 8:14 PM

        You’re either healthy or you’re not. Kemp has been unhealthy and until he proves otherwise that’s what he is. Its not nice but that’s what it is.

  7. capnsparrow23 - Feb 14, 2014 at 7:09 PM

    Are you freakin kidding me with this hair brained article? Never mind the FACT that Matt Kemp played on over 400 consecutive games in the seasons prior to colliding int the curse field wall! Never mind that Matt Kemp was robbed of an MVP award by a PED user who was given the award because his club got a wild card berth while Matts missed one. Those of you that forget who Matt Kemp is (and you know who you are) will be sorely reminded in 2014!!!!1! Matt Kemp is the Centerfielder in LA for at least the next 5 years and hopefully beyond that!!!

    • cohnjusack - Feb 14, 2014 at 7:44 PM

      Those of you that forget who Matt Kemp is (and you know who you are) will be sorely reminded in 2014!!!!1

      I can only assume from the amount of emotion in this post that Matt Kemp is son.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 14, 2014 at 9:27 PM

        Kemp!

      • happytwinsfan - Feb 14, 2014 at 9:40 PM

        mein kempf!

    • brewcrewfan54 - Feb 14, 2014 at 8:11 PM

      Brewers won the division that year brah!!

    • Kevin Gillman - Feb 14, 2014 at 8:56 PM

      He needs to prove it, because if he misses any more time, you have a young emerging RF named Puig that can take over and be the face of the Dodgers.

  8. happytwinsfan - Feb 14, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    i was gonna say something snotty, but i guess i won’t

    whatever his baseball worth is, the man’s got pride. gotta like that.

  9. brewcrewfan54 - Feb 14, 2014 at 8:12 PM

    Yes you are right now Matt.

  10. musketmaniac - Feb 14, 2014 at 9:17 PM

    last year they had too many starters, we saw how that worked out. Four outfielders now that’s a problem, switch to a soft ball league.

  11. tentennies - Feb 14, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    Hanley had a similar shoulder problem and the marlins gave up on him too soon, for our gain! True Blue fans know Matt carried our team for about 3 years by himself! When he gets healthy finally he’ll be back! Go Blue!

  12. 14thinningstretch - Feb 14, 2014 at 10:54 PM

    Too much outfield depth is a pretty good problem to have. Given the noticeable platoon splits Ethier and Crawford have, I wonder if they’ll platoon Kemp with one of those guys until someone goes down with an injury.

  13. dcarroll73 - Feb 14, 2014 at 11:30 PM

    As a Giants fan, let me say I totally support Kemp. The position should be his to lose; he plays there unless he is hurt and can’t play. If the Dodgers can’t understand that, please send him over to SF. This guy is the real deal. He plays 100%, and that sometimes leads to getting hurt. It is not usually easy for a Giants fan to cheer for a Dodger, but with this guy, no problem. Best of luck for an awesome comeback season, Matt (with just a few “off days” against SF.)

  14. 27xwschamps - Feb 15, 2014 at 3:49 AM

    You cant help the club, sittin in the tub there home boy !!! Fish or cut bait..

  15. yordo - Feb 15, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    Sounds like he needs an attitude adjustment. Nothing a little AAA can’t fix.

  16. upperdecker19 - Feb 15, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    You’ll always be a 4th outfielder to Rhianna though

  17. spliff219 - Feb 15, 2014 at 7:32 PM

    Do they think that somebody wants to trade for him. 25 mil a year over the next five and cant stay on the field. umm dont think so.

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