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.
The World Series champion Red Sox are scheduled to visit President Trump in the White House on February 15. Some have speculated that manager Álex Cora, who is from Puerto Rico and has been critical of Trump and has been a big factor in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, might not go as a form of protest. Thus far, nothing concrete has been reported on that front.
However, third baseman Rafael Devers says he isn’t going to join the Red Sox on their visit to the White House, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports. Devers would prefer to focus on baseball, as the Red Sox open spring training on February 13 and position players have to report on February 17. Per Chris Mason, Devers also said via a translator, “The opportunity was presented and I just wasn’t compelled to go.”
Devers hails from the Dominican Republic and he, like many of Major League Baseball’s foreign-born player base, might not be happy about Trump’s immigration policies. Understandably, he is being tight-lipped about his motivation, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Devers is making a silent protest by choosing not to attend. He is thus far the only member of the team to bow out.
Devers, 22, hit .240/.298/.433 with 21 home runs, 66 RBI, and 59 runs scored in 490 plate appearances last season.
Last year, when the Astros visited Trump at the White House, they did so without Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltrán. Both are from Puerto Rico. It is certainly not unprecedented for individual players to opt out of the White House visit.
No word yet on what food will be served during Boston’s trip to the nation’s capital, but the smart money is on hamberders.