Matt Kemp nearing Cactus League debut

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Matt Kemp has begun running at full speed and participating in daily outfield drills in Dodgers camp, and he could soon be cleared to become a regular in the club’s Cactus League starting lineups.

“We’re seeing him take fly balls, getting jumps,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick on Saturday. “He’s swinging the bat good. It won’t be long before he’s in a game.”

Kemp is on his way back from October surgery for his left ankle and left shoulder. He appeared in just 73 games during the 2013 regular season.

The 29-year-old center fielder can be ruled out for the Dodgers’ season-opening two-game set (March 22-23) against the Diamondbacks in Sydney, Australia, but the hope is that he will be nearly 100 percent when the Dodgers begin a series against the Padres back in the United States on March 30.

Report: MLB likely to unilaterally implement pace of play changes

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that talks between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Association concerning pace of play changes have stalled, which makes it more likely that commissioner Rob Manfred unilaterally implements the changes he seeks. Those changes include a pitch clock and a restriction on catcher mound visits.

Manfred said, “My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players. But if we can’t get an agreement, we are going to have rule changes in 2018, one way or the other.”

The players have made several suggestions aimed at reducing the length of games, such as amending replay review rules, strictly monitoring down time between innings, and bringing back bullpen carts.

It is believed that MLB is proposing a pitch clock of 20 seconds. If a pitcher takes too long between pitches, he will have a ball added to the count. If the hitter takes too long, then he will have a strike added to the count.