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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Dodgers' Matt Kemp sheds protective boot, will be ready Opening Day

By on 12/25/2013 06:39:00 AM

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp has given Dodger fans a Christmas present. He has shed his walking boot, and he has stated that he fully expects to be in manager Don Mattingly's starting lineup on Opening Day. L.A. Times' Dodgers beat writer Dylan Hernandez reports that Kemp is now able to workout without the protective boot that he has worn since his ankle surgery on October 23.
The message comes from Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti. The Dodgers open the season early -- March 20 -- against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Sydney, Australia.

Kemp had surgery to repair the microfracture in the left ankle's talus, the bone that attaches the foot to the leg. He also had bone spurs and other loose bodies removed during the process. This injury was the fourth of the 2013 season for Kemp, who played in just 73 games. He did not officially go on the disabled list then, but this fracture ended his season a few days early; he also missed the postseason.

Kemp had three DL stints in 2013; they stemmed from a hamstring strain, shoulder inflammation, and an ankle sprain before the fracture occurred. These injuries limited him to just 263 at-bats, in which he hit .270/.328/.395 with 6 HR, and 33 RBI.

Kemp has declined physically since his near-Triple Crown season of 2011. He missed 56 games in 2012 to mainly a strained left hamstring, the same problem that began his 2013 problems.

Kemp has appeared in numerous trade rumors throughout the offseason; interested teams included Boston, Seattle, and Texas. However, Colletti declared in early December that Kemp will remain a Dodger. Kemp has six years and $128 million left on his contract, liabilities that that will weaken other general managers' interest for a player who has appeared in only 55% of his team's games over the past two seasons.

Kemp will share outfield time with Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, and Yasiel Puig as the Dodgers have four starting outfielders for three positions. The young, dynamic Puig will likely play most every day, but the other three, all 29 and older with injury history, will likely rotate their days off to stay fresh.

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