In hiring Davey Lopes as their new first base coach the Dodgers are adding one of the game’s most successful base-stealers and base-stealing coaches to the staff, but there’s also an added bonus: Lopes is longtime friends with Dave Stewart, the former All-Star pitcher-turned-agent who represents center fielder Matt Kemp.
Kemp clashed with the previous coaching staff and Stewart wasn’t shy about going public with his thoughts on the situation, but now he’s confident that “Matt will have someone he can trust” in Lopes, whom he calls “the best friend I have in this world.”
Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Lopes got in touch with Kemp several weeks ago to talk about his offseason workout program and yesterday Lopes spoke about the importance of having a good relationship with young players:
You have to adapt to today’s player. You have to be able to communicate. You need a guy to build you up. That helps elevate a player.
Kemp could definitely use some building up after seeing his OPS drop from .842 to .760 while his defense declined significantly as well, and Lopes’ base-stealing expertise may come in particularly handy. Kemp swiped 35 bases in 2008 and 34 bases in 2009, but was thrown out on 15 of his 34 attempts this season. Lopes isn’t a miracle-worker, but he seemingly has as good a chance as anyone of helping Kemp get back on track in 2011.