Agent speaks out in Matt Kemp's defense and says Dodgers might be better off trading him

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Matt Kemp returned to the Dodgers’ lineup last night after being benched for two games and went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs.

Hours earlier Kemp’s agent, former All-Star pitcher Dave Stewart, spoke to Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times about the Dodgers’ treatment of his client, suggesting that perhaps everyone involved would be better off if the 25-year-old outfielder is traded during the offseason

Here’s some of what Stewart said:

It’s almost like it’s open season on Matt, and it’s not right. It’s a bunch of back-seat crap. I’m almost to the point–and maybe so are the Dodgers–where I’m thinking that this just isn’t going to work. The Dodgers have gaps on this team, and maybe they could fill them by trading Matt. It could be good for the team, and good for the player.

It’s very, very difficult to play under the circumstances that Kemp is playing under. The thing we have to look at is, is there going to be a fit? Is he going to be able to get past the public scrutiny? Matt has to wonder, ‘If these guys don’t like me, how can I play for them?'”

Stewart stressed that Kemp would never formally ask for a trade, but went on to specifically address how the Dodgers’ coaching staff and front office have publicly criticized Kemp at various times this season:

Everything was fine until suddenly [coaches Bob] Schaefer and [Larry] Bowa start getting on him publicly. On those great Dodger teams of the past, you would never read about a player being trashed like Matt’s been trashed. When Larry Bowa played, he would never accept a coach talking about him in the newspaper like that, but they want to Matt to accept it? Yes, it affects the player, it has to affect the player. All this external crap coming from Schaefer and Bowa, why would you want to play for somebody like that?

I tend to agree with Stewart and my guess is that his comments will be taken more seriously than the usual lip-service from an agent because he pitched 16 seasons in the majors, including four years for the Dodgers. Kemp has become a scapegoat for all things wrong with the Dodgers and, while his play this season has been somewhat disappointing, he remains one of the team’s best players and certainly doesn’t deserve the level and type of criticism he’s received, not to mention the benchings.
In response to Stewart, general manager Ned Colletti said that he has “no plans to trade him” and added “he’s got a chance to be one of the best players in the history of the franchise.” However, he also admitted that perhaps going public with criticism of Kemp was a mistake:

Our coaching staff only wants the best for the kid. Are they too hard on him? That’s a matter of opinion. But if there’s a miscommunication, we’re all adults here, let’s put everybody in a room and work it out.

Sounds good, but that probably would have been a better idea three months ago.

Cubs place Ben Zobrist on 10-day disabled list with back soreness

Ben Zobrist
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Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.

Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.

With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.