Matt Kemp activated from disabled list, but not in lineup

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While it’s not clear how much he’ll play, Matt Kemp has been activated from the disabled list by the Dodgers.

Kemp has been sidelined since July 21 with a sprained left ankle. The 28-year-old outfielder had a minor setback earlier this month due to renewed tightness in his right hamstring, but he has been able to ramp up baseball activities in recent days. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles that Kemp looked “tentative” while running the bases during pregame warm-ups, so he’ll only be available in a pinch-hitting capacity initially.

Between his struggles following shoulder surgery and ankle and hamstring injuries, this has mostly been a lost season for Kemp. Limited to just 62 games, he is batting just .263/.319/.382 with five home runs and 27 RBI over 251 plate appearances. He’s obviously not 100 percent quite yet, but the Dodgers are still hoping he can contribute come playoff time.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉