"I'll be the biggest cheerleader, like I have been -- the loudest guy on the bench every night." -Matt Kemp
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 29, 2013
He's a $20 million cheerleader, if you're counting money at home. But Kemp's ankle is too messed up to risk playing anymore, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:
Dr. Neal ElAttrache said the talus bone in his left ankle, one of the major weight-bearing bones in the foot, was swollen and in danger of fracturing.
“We have to protect Matt,” ElAttrache said.
And if Andre Ethier can't get into the lineup because of a shin splint-like problem in his ankle, the Dodgers will be starting Skip Schumaker in center field. They would be best with Kemp out there, but he hasn't really been himself from Day 1 of 2013.
Kemp started the season still in recovery from offseason shoulder surgery on his left AC joint. He also strained his right hamstring in May, a problem that recurred in September as he was trying to return from his ankle injury. Kemp missed 52 games from July 22-Sept. 16. It's easy to forget that Kemp played in 399 straight games from August 2009 to May 14 of 2012, the longest streak in the majors at the time.
The injuries took their toll this season: A runner-up to NL MVP in 2011, Kemp finished 2013 with his worst numbers since he was a rookie in 2006: .270/.328/.395 with six homers in 290 plate appearance. And yet, the Dodgers, as Kemp has acknowledged, have done well without him in the lineup.
"It's disappointing, but they have been okay without me. I like our chances." -Matt Kemp — Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 29, 2013
They went from 50-47 when Kemp hit the DL in July to 86-64 by the time he returned about two weeks ago. Kemp basically missed the whole Yasiel Puig debut, along with a huge chunk of the Dodgers midseason hot streak that turned around their season. Don Mattingly says "We went 42-8 without Matt," and it's nearly true.
Kemp's ankle won't require surgery, only rest. His shoulder will need an offseason cleanup. In the meantime, there's a big drop-off to Skip Schumaker, no matter that he started Games 5-7 of the 2011 World Series for the Cardinals. Kemp appeared ready to supercharge the Dodgers offense when, in his second game back Sept. 17, he went 4 for 4 with two doubles against the D-backs. Not having him for the playoffs doesn't signal the end for the Dodgers — like Mattingly said. But it's a big blow.
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