The high-priced Dodgers are going all in to make it back to the postseason, but they likely won’t get very far if Matt Kemp isn’t back to 100 percent following offseason surgery on his left shoulder. However, he passed his first test yesterday.
Kemp made his Cactus League debut as the DH against the Angels and went 0-for-2 with a groundout and a strikeout. He told Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times that swinging a bat in a game again was “weird,” but the good news is that he didn’t have any issues with his shoulder.
“It will get better and better as the at-bats go,” he said. “I fouled off a changeup that [Freddy] Garcia threw me, and last year that would have left my shoulder hurting a little bit and that didn’t hurt. So those are really good signs that my shoulder is stronger and I’m responding well to the rehab and everything I’ve done throughout the off-season to get it better.”
Kemp is expected to DH again on Sunday as the Dodgers continue to ease him into action, but it shouldn’t be long before he’s ready to play center field. The expectation is that he should be ready for Opening Day.
Kemp, 28, batted .303/.367/.538 with 23 home runs, 69 RBI, nine stolen bases and a .906 OPS in 106 games last year.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.