Matt Kemp has no issues with shoulder in spring debut

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The high-priced Dodgers are going all in to make it back to the postseason, but they likely won’t get very far if Matt Kemp isn’t back to 100 percent following offseason surgery on his left shoulder. However, he passed his first test yesterday.

Kemp made his Cactus League debut as the DH against the Angels and went 0-for-2 with a groundout and a strikeout. He told Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times that swinging a bat in a game again was “weird,” but the good news is that he didn’t have any issues with his shoulder.

“It will get better and better as the at-bats go,” he said. “I fouled off a changeup that [Freddy] Garcia threw me, and last year that would have left my shoulder hurting a little bit and that didn’t hurt. So those are really good signs that my shoulder is stronger and I’m responding well to the rehab and everything I’ve done throughout the off-season to get it better.”

Kemp is expected to DH again on Sunday as the Dodgers continue to ease him into action, but it shouldn’t be long before he’s ready to play center field. The expectation is that he should be ready for Opening Day.

Kemp, 28, batted .303/.367/.538 with 23 home runs, 69 RBI, nine stolen bases and a .906 OPS in 106 games last year.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.