Kemp makes first start in left field since 2006
LOS ANGELES -- The waiting is over for Matt Kemp. After five games on the bench, his transition (for now) to left field was set to begin here Wednesday night with Carl Crawford on the disabled list with a sprained ankle.
The position swap, after Kemp misplayed a couple of balls in center field last week and manager Don Mattingly observed that he didn't seem to have the same "burst" in the field he had prior to ankle surgery, is no small thing. The last time Kemp, a Gold Glover in center field in 2009 and '11, played left field was on June 21, 2006.
"Easy process," Mattingly said. "It was a matter of him getting comfortable and ready to go."
Crawford's injury seemed to speed that process along, but Mattingly said he checked with coach Davey Lopes earlier Wednesday to get his opinion as to whether Kemp was ready to give it a whirl. Lopes has been working with Kemp early each day, hitting him fly balls.
"Weird," Kemp said of seeing his name in the lineup in left field. "Different.
"It is what it is."
Kemp said the biggest adjustment will be to "angles and slices and all that."
Mattingly said, generally, line drives into left-center slice toward a left fielder, and liners down the line generally pull away from the left fielder, toward the line and foul territory.
"I think I'm a pretty good athlete," Kemp said. "So I think I'll be OK."