Matt Kemp vows to stop slacking, then slacks

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When Dodgers GM Ned Colletti called out Matt Kemp back in April for poor defense and base running, the reaction, via Kemp’s agent Dave Stewart, was swift and harsh.

But when Larry Bowa said something the other day, the reaction was much different.

First, here’s what Bowa, the Dodgers’ fiery third base coach, told T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times while ranting about how some of L.A.’s players don’t care enough:

“I wish I had Matt Kemp’s tools because I would be in Cooperstown,” Bowa said. “He has so much athleticism. I don’t know if he knows what it’s like to go full bore for nine innings. He’s so talented, I don’t think his mind lets him ask, ‘Is there more here?'”

Kemp’s response?

“There’s more there,” Kemp said. “I agree. It’s something I need to sit here and think about and then change.”

It was a surprisingly straightforward answer, and maybe even a little contrite. It’s also possible that Kemp has simply grown tired of all the criticism and was just saying what he thought people wanted to hear him say. Like when you’re a kid and your parents keep asking you to clean your room. Eventually you say “yeah, yeah I’ll clean my room,” even though you have no intention of doing so.

If Kemp does indeed plan to change, I’m sure we’ll see some signs at any moment. As of Monday night, though, it appears he’s still sitting and thinking about it. During the first inning against the Padres, Kemp played a central role in his team failing to score any runs despite notching five consecutive hits. (Although in fairness he was not the only culprit)

During the play in question, James Loney was thrown out at third base for the final out while Kemp “nonchalantly crossed home plate. Umpire Ted Barrett signaled that his run didn’t count.”

But don’t worry Dodgers fans, Kemp knows he needs to change … starting now.

UPDATE: If you’re going to go 5-for-5 with a home run every night, slack all you want, Matt.

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Noah Syndergaard scratched with a “tired arm”

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Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.

Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.

The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.

James Paxton has a fantastic new nickname

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James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.

And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:

“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”

“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.

“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.