Offense perking up with Kemp in leadoff spot
Padres right fielder homers again in Sunday's loss
SAN DIEGO -- The sample size is stunningly small, but Padres interim manager Pat Murphy likes Matt Kemp in the leadoff spot.
In Sunday's 6-4 loss to the D-backs, Kemp hit leadoff for the fifth time in as many days. After going hitless in his four at-bats Wednesday, Kemp has seven hits in 16 at-bats with two doubles, two home runs and five RBIs out of the top spot in the order.
One of those home runs came Sunday, when Kemp led off the game with a home run. Derek Norris went deep twice in the six-homer contest.
"I think it affects the other team a little bit," Murphy said.
The Padres have scored 23 runs in their last four games with Kemp hitting atop the lineup.
When Murphy penciled Kemp into the leadoff spot Wednesday, it marked the first time that he had hit there since 2010, when he was with the Dodgers.
"I don't feel any different. I've hit there before. You're leading off the game. After that, you're just a regular hitter in the lineup," Kemp said before Sunday's game. "Nothing crazy."
Murphy said he appreciated Kemp's willingness to move out a spot in the lineup where he had typically hit -- either No. 3 or 4 this season and, generally, most of his career -- to help the team.
"It's a team move," Murphy said. "He's doing it for the team. He's giving up RBI opportunities.
"Matty's willingness to do it is just and all-in team approach, like 'Hey -- I will do whatever.' That, right there, sent a message to the whole team -- that this is a team."
Kemp is the seventh player to hit leadoff this season and, from the looks of it, he will continue to hit there. The other best internal candidate is Wil Myers, who got 33 starts there before landing on the disabled list and, subsequently, undergoing surgery on his left wrist.
Myers said Saturday that he should be able to resume full baseball activity in four to six weeks.
Murphy won't commit to Kemp batting leadoff as a season-long deal -- but he doesn't have intention of moving Kemp again anytime soon.
That's perfectly fine with Kemp, who doesn't see what all the fuss is about him batting first.
"I haven't really been worried about it," Kemp said after Sunday's game. "I just keep grinding. I just think about getting a good pitch and putting a good swing on it."