Matt Kemp said this one was worse than the original injury, and he was placed back on the disabled list Thursday just two days after returning from a strained left hamstring.
Kemp aggravated the injury running the bases in Wednesday’s game and soon afterwards snapped a bat over his thigh in frustration.
“He has a little bit of swelling in the same area, as well as a new strain in a higher part of that hamstring,” said trainer Sue Falsone.
Falsone added that Kemp will be sidelined at least four weeks. Fortunately, the Dodgers got off to such a strong start that they should be able to withstand the absence. Even though they’ve lost three games in a row, they’re still 32-18 on the season, putting them 5 1/2 games up on the Giants in the NL West.
Expect to see a lot more Tony Gwynn Jr. while Kemp is out. Gwynn, who is hitting .279/.318/.344 on the season, will likely lead off against right-handers. Elian Herrera could make some starts in center against lefties, with the newly recalled Alex Castellanos playing second base.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.