ATLANTA -- As Matt Kemp has repeatedly been hindered by hamstring problems this season, it has been easy to forget he exited May on pace for a second straight 30-homer season and ranked among the top 10 National League leaders in both batting average and OPS.Now, Kemp has seven weeks
ATLANTA -- As Matt Kemp has repeatedly been hindered by hamstring problems this season, it has been easy to forget he exited May on pace for a second straight 30-homer season and ranked among the top 10 National League leaders in both batting average and OPS.
Now, Kemp has seven weeks to attempt to salvage a once promising season that was most recently derailed on July 28, when he strained his right hamstring. The Braves outfielder ended his three-week absence when he was activated from the disabled list before Saturday night's 11-8 loss to the Reds at SunTrust Park.
Kemp didn't necessarily show any rust as he hit the ball hard in his first three at-bats and ended the game 1-for-6. His first-inning liner came off the bat with a 105.7 mph exit velocity according to Statcast™ and went through the legs of shortstop Jose Peraza, who was charged with an error. Kemp lined out to left in the third, singled in the fifth, flew out in the seventh and grounded out eighth and ninth.
"Hamstrings are tricky," Kemp said. "Sometimes when you think you're ready, you're not. I think I gave it a little extra time. So, hopefully with that extra time, we're past all of those hamstring injuries and I can continue to play the rest of the season."
Kemp missed nearly two full weeks when he strained his right hamstring on April 7, during the season's fourth game. He then missed three starts after tweaking his left hamstring during a June 14 game against the Nationals. The decision not to place him on the disabled list with that ailment seemed to prove costly. After batting .327 with 11 home runs and a .922 OPS in the 55 games he played before tweaking the left hamstring, he hit just .221 with three home runs and a .614 OPS over the next 33 games he played before suffering the right hamstring strain that sidelined him over the past three weeks.
Though Kemp missed an extended period, he did not play a Minor League rehab game before returning Saturday to resume his roles as Atlanta's cleanup hitter and starting left fielder.
"It's kind of personal with each guy," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I remember a couple years ago, we had trouble getting guys to go. Guys who have been around a long time don't feel like it's going to do them any good to go face Minor League pitching. Nowadays, they have machines [in the clubhouse] that replicate all the pitches you're going to see. It's just different with guys who have played a long time."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.