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Kemp undergoes ankle surgery; return uncertain

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp underwent surgery on his damaged left ankle on Monday. The club said he is expected to be "competitive" in time for the regular season, but apparently not for Spring Training.

Kemp injured the ankle on July 21 while sliding awkwardly into home plate in Washington after admittedly not running hard from third base on a ground ball. Originally diagnosed as a sprained ankle, Kemp attempted to rehab the injury, but pain persisted.

When Kemp was declared out for the playoffs, Dr. Neal ElAttrache said the injury was to a major weight-bearing bone, and a complete fracture could put Kemp's career in jeopardy.

Oddly, general manager Ned Colletti said earlier Monday that he was not aware of any Dodgers facing surgery.

The arthroscopic operation included the removal of several spurs and a loose body.

More importantly, it involved microfracture of the talus bone, a procedure of punching numerous holes in the bone to stimulate the formation of an overlying layer of fibrocartilage. The operation was performed by Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C., and not by ElAttrache. Anderson is a team physician for the Carolina Panthers.

Kemp will be in a splint for two weeks and a non-weight bearing boot for another two weeks. It's unknown when he is expected to resume baseball activities.

Kemp hasn't been healthy since running into the center-field fence in Coors Field in August 2012. He underwent surgery for a torn labrum in his left shoulder last year. This season, he endured three trips to the disabled list for a strained right hamstring, left shoulder A/C joint irritation and the ankle injury.

Last week, Kemp underwent a cleanup procedure to address the arthritic A/C joint. The ankle surgery is his third operation in the last year.

Kemp just completed the first year of an eight-year, $160 million contract extension he signed after the 2011 season, when he was the runner-up to the Brewers' Ryan Braun for National League MVP.

The 29-year-old Kemp played in 73 games this past season, hitting .270 with six home runs.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for
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