Matt Kemp optimistic he’ll be ready for Opening Day

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If you recall, surgery on Matt Kemp’s left (non-throwing) shoulder in October was a bit more involved than originally anticipated, as Dr. Neal ElAttrache repaired a partially torn labrum and rotator cuff damage. This has left some doubt about whether he’ll be ready for the start of the 2013 season, but Kemp told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com today that he’s healing “ahead of schedule” and is optimistic he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

“That’s my goal,” said Kemp, wearing a Dodgers jersey with Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 and accompanied by his mother. “I’m hitting off the tee, no soft toss yet. I have my good days and bad days. It’s still a little sore. But being ready for the season is all that matters.”

Kemp conceded that he may not be 100 percent by the start of spring training and that he expects the Dodgers to take it easy with him, but he’s much more concerned about his status for the start of the season. Of course, even if Kemp is ready for Opening Day, that doesn’t mean he’ll be the same hitter right away. Look no further than Kemp’s teammate, Adrian Gonzalez, for an example of what shoulder surgery can do to a hitter’s power production. For all their big spending, the Dodgers’ lineup isn’t exactly a juggernaut, so what version of Kemp we’ll see will be an important factor in their postseason hopes.

Shelby Miller will undergo Tommy John surgery

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Last we heard from Shelby Miller, the Diamondbacks’ right-hander was contemplating Tommy John surgery for a partial UCL tear in his right elbow. Now, he appears to have decided to go through with the procedure.

Miller decided to skip Tommy John alternatives like plasma-rich platelet injections or stem cell treatment, which have been used to varying degrees of success by other major league pitchers with similar injuries. The surgery will set him back an estimated 12-18 months, FanRag Sports’ Tommy Stokke reports, which puts Miller’s estimated return date somewhere in 2018 if all goes well.

The 26-year-old starter was off to a rocky start this season, posting a 2-2 record and 4.09 ERA through 22 innings and striking out just 20 of 99 batters faced. This was his sophomore campaign in Arizona after muddling through the 2016 season with a 3-12 record, 6.15 ERA and 0.5 fWAR over 101 innings with the club.

Steven Souza Jr. exits game after injuring his hand on a hit by pitch

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Rays’ right fielder Steven Souza Jr. left Saturday’s game after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch from Blue Jays’ right-hander Joe Biagini in the seventh inning. The pitch appeared to hit the top of Souza Jr.’s hand, causing the outfielder to crumple at the plate and requiring assistance from assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker as he exited the field. Postgame reports from the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin revealed that Souza Jr. sustained a left hand contusion and is scheduled to undergo further evaluation on Sunday.

While the diagnosis isn’t as bad as it could be, it’s still a tough break for the right fielder, who missed 40 days of the 2015 season after sustaining a fracture in his left hand on another hit by pitch. The team has yet to announce any concrete timetable for Souza Jr.’s return, though manager Kevin Cash indicated that they’ll be taking things day to day for the time being.

Souza Jr. is batting .326/.398/.543 with four home runs and 17 RBI through 104 PA in 2017. He went 1-for-2 with a base hit and a walk prior to his departure during Saturday’s 4-1 loss.