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Kemp will heed Mattingly's advice for staying strong

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Don Mattingly played five seasons of at least 157 games each, but the career that seemed headed to the Hall of Fame was stopped short because his body broke down.

Whether that's convenient anecdotal evidence or not, the manager and longtime Yankees great is using his experience as a player to convince Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp to accept more days off.

"I want to give Matt a day here and there. I know he probably won't want to hear that," said Mattingly. "I know he likes to play every day, every day. But a few days off early on will keep him strong. Giving him a breather won't hurt him, and [Andre Ethier], too."

Kemp, who played at least 155 games four straight years until last year's injury-plagued season, said he's reluctantly accepting his manager's advice.

"If [Donnie Baseball] thinks taking a day off is best, I'll do it," said Kemp, who played 399 consecutive games until felled by a hamstring injury last summer.

"He told me one of the mistakes he made was not taking days off," Kemp added. "He'd play the game so hard he'd feel his legs get weak. You know I want to play every day. But I've got to listen to a man like him. If he gives me a day off, I can't say no.

"I understand it. It's tough for me, as much as I love to play, it's tough to sit. When I can play, I want to play. But I understand where he's coming from. For me, I have to trust my teammates that they'll pick me up, just like they trust me that I'll pick them up."