Matt Kemp has no issues with shoulder in spring debut

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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.

Victor Martinez played his final major league game on Saturday

Victor Martinez
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After 16 years in the majors, longtime Tigers DH Victor Martinez capped his career with one final start at Comerica Park. Although there are seven games remaining in the club’s regular season schedule, Martinez said he felt he owed it to the fans to record his final at-bat at home. He’ll still cheer the rest of the team on from the dugout when they hit the road for their last six-game stretch on Monday, though he’s not expected to slot into the lineup at any point during their back-to-back away series against the Twins and Brewers.

In order to commemorate the occasion, the Tigers arranged a pregame ceremony to celebrate the veteran infielder’s seven years with the team, during which they presented him with Topps baseball cards, a recliner, a pair of boots, and a saddle, among other honors. Martinez also put in a special request to play first base, a position he hadn’t manned in over two years.

The 39-year-old didn’t waste a single minute of his final start in the majors. He deftly handled an inning-ending out in the top of the first, then laced a rare infield single to short in his first and final at-bat of the afternoon, beating the throw to first and advancing Nicholas Castellanos to second base in order to set up the Tigers’ first run: a two-out RBI single from Niko Goodrum that brought Castellanos home to score.

“I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career,” Martinez told reporters after the Tigers wrapped a 5-4 win over the Royals. “I had to sweat it out. I had to sweat it out the whole way. I had to grind it. That was my whole career.”

Following the hit — and the standing ovation that greeted it — the switch-hitter was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Ronny Rodriguez, who subbed in at second base in the top of the second while Goodrum shifted from second to first base. Taking Saturday’s performance into account, Martinez polished off his big league career with a lifetime .295/.359/.455 batting line, 423 doubles, 246 home runs, 1,178 RBI, and 28.4 fWAR across 1,973 games and three separate stints for the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. His accomplishments at the plate have been decorated with five All-Star nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards, and the designated hitter-exclusive Edgar Martinez Award following a career-best campaign in 2014.