Matt Kemp aiming to return to the Dodgers’ starting lineup for first game after All-Star break

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Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp has been on the shelf for close to five weeks with a left hamstring strain that dates back to the middle of May. But he is making progress and already charting his return.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Kemp is planning to embark on a minor league rehab assignment next week and hopes to rejoin the Dodgers for their first scheduled game after the All-Star break (July 13 against the Padres).

Kemp will compete in the Home Run Derby on July 9 at Kauffman Stadium but will skip the All-Star Game.

The 27-year-old is batting .355/.444/.719 with 12 home runs and 28 RBI in 36 games played this season. The Dodgers have taken a sharp dip in the standings while he’s been sidelined and currently trail the Giants by one game in the National League West.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. named ALCS MVP

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Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series after his club punched its ticket to the World Series on Thursday night against the Astros.

Coincidentally, the Astros’ Game 5 starter Justin Verlander was ALCS MVP last year en route to a championship.

Bradley went 0-for-3 with a walk in Thursday’s Game 5, but he hit a three-run double in Game 2, a grand slam in Game 3, and a go-ahead two-run home run in Game 4. That’s nine RBI and three extra-base hits across five games. He also drew four walks.

Though Bradley had a solid regular season, he was not near the top of the list most people would’ve expected to win ALCS MVP heading into the series. During the season, he hit .234/.314/.403 with 13 home runs, 59 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 17 stolen bases in 535 plate appearances.