Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said earlier this month that Matt Kemp is unlikely to be 100 percent healthy at the start of spring training, but the rehabbing outfielder should be cleared to participate in the club’s season-opening series against the Diamondbacks in Australia. That two-game set, scheduled for late March, will take place at the Sydney Cricket Ground, which holds 46,000 fans.
Kemp had been in a protective walking boot since undergoing ankle surgery in October but Colletti told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that he shed the boot 10 days ago and is working slowly but surely toward restarting baseball activities. Kemp also had surgery on his left shoulder in October.
The Dodgers shopped Kemp this offseason but probably didn’t like any of the offers sent their way. Kemp is not only recovering from two major surgeries but also batted just .270/.328/.395 in 73 games in 2013.
If his health cooperates, Kemp will serve as Los Angeles’ primary center fielder in 2014.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.