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Dodgers plan to try Kemp in left field

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp was not in the starting lineup on Monday for a fourth consecutive game.

"I just want to play," Kemp said before the game against the Reds. "It's frustrating any day you're not playing. I'm here to play baseball and help my teammates."

Kemp, who has been a fixture in center field when healthy since 2008, underwent left ankle surgery in October. The Dodgers feel he's lost a step breaking on fly balls, and have been going with Andre Ethier, who doesn't have Kemp's speed but runs better routes, in center.

Manager Don Mattingly said Kemp will start getting work in left field, where he hasn't played since he was a rookie in 2006. In essence, Kemp and Ethier have traded places, with Kemp becoming lefty-swinging Carl Crawford's platoon partner in left.

"This just gives him a more time to where we feel like he's 100 percent, continuing to work in center but also to work in left field, where we still feel like he's best for the ballclub at this moment," Mattingly said.

"I'm healthy now," Kemp said. "I feel good. I just want to play."

Kemp is hitting .264 with five homers and 13 RBIs in 42 games. He is hitting .320, with all his homers, against right-handed pitchers and just .157 against lefties, numbers that are contrary to a typical platoon player.

Kemp hit .405 from May 3-13, before the Dodgers went on a nine-game road trip. Kemp started the first six games and went 5-for-22 before Ethier took over in center for the entire series in Philadelphia. Kemp had one pinch-hit appearance against the Phillies.

Earl Bloom is a contributor to
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