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Big League Stew

Spring Headlines: Matt Kemp responds to chemistry talk, Delmon Young could start year on DL

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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Matt Kemp builds team chemistry by spearing A.J. Ellis. (Getty)

Matt Kemp has heard all of the comments and questions surrounding the Los Angeles Dodgers' chemistry.

That includes a pretty stiff shot from San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, who recently stated that "you can't buy chemistry" in reference to the Dodgers' expensive overhaul of their roster.

Yes, Kemp heard that one loud and clear.

His response, provided to us by Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, was equally clear: Mind your own business, Brandon.

"If I was the World Series champ, I don't have to say anything about somebody else's team. I'm not worried about our chemistry. I keep hearing we don't have any. I can tell our chemistry will be good. We built it at the end of the year, so I don't care what people say or how they feel.

"We have a great team. We have pitching, we have hitting, we have defense. We have it all. There's going to be no excuse if we do lose. If everybody does his job, we'll be successful, and I don't care what anybody says about us. We just got to go out and do our thing and let them say what they want. We all saw those quotes. We'll worry about the Dodgers. I'm sure the Giants will worry about the Giants."

Ha. Good try, Matt. Something tells me this is just the first of several notable exchanges between these two teams in 2013. The full-fledged rebirth of one of sports' greatest rivalries is upon us, folks. This is going to be a lot of fun.

[Also: Marlins owners told Jose Reyes to buy house days before trade]

Delmon Young's recovery from ankle is behind schedule: He’s trim, he’s in shape — perhaps the best of his life — yet he still might not be ready to make his Philadelphia Phillies debut on opening day. That’s the early word on Delmon Young, who remains behind schedule in his recovery from November micro fracture surgery on his right ankle. As a result, the veteran outfielder may be forced to begin the season on the disabled list.

Here’s what Young himself had to say via Todd Zolecki's Zo Zone blog:

“The ankle is feeling good but I’m not a doctor,” he said. “So when the doctor tells me when everything will be ready, I’ll be out there. I’m not going to put any date on it. I’ll be out there at that time when it’s fully healed and I build up baseball stamina and I can be out there for nine innings.”

Despite the ankle situation hampering him all winter, Young insists he’s dropped a lot of weight and the Phillies seem to remain confident he can handle the responsibility of playing right field — a position he hasn’t played since 2007 — on an everyday basis. As we know, they also wrote extra motivation into his contract when they added a few weight clauses, so maybe there‘s reason for optimism here. Maybe.

Young would not say how much he weighs with the Phillies holding their first full-squad workout tomorrow.

“I don’t really go on the scale that much,” he said. “I just see what clothes fit and see when I can go on the beach.”

Or maybe not.

Have fun, Philadelphia.

Chase Utley's feeling good: Here's some better news for Phillies fans. According to Jim Salisbury of Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia, second baseman Chase Utley's knee is "feeling pretty damn good" and he's confident his new offseason regimen will allow him to hit the ground running.

“Last year’s program didn’t work for me,” Utley said. “It was disappointing. It was difficult to handle. But I wasn’t going to let it get me down. I knew I had lot of baseball left in me. I wasn’t willing to let this stop me. I’m just happy we put together a good program and now things are looking good.

“This offseason, I trained to play baseball, not just take pressure off my knees. It’s worked. I have strength in my legs, and I can feel it taking ground balls and swinging the bat. There’s something there where the last couple of years there hasn’t been.”

Those scrappy underdogs from Boston: Worn out clichés and hyperbole are commonplace in spring training. We know it’s coming and we're usually able to dismiss it without a second thought. But sometimes you can’t help but marvel at the lengths some managers, agents, players and even team presidents will go to sell themselves or the product they’re about to put on the field.

[Also: Nick Swisher leaves Indians camp after mom dies]

Such was the case when Boston Red Sox president Larry Lucchino elected to play the “scrappy underdog” card while discussing the $162 million squad he helped put together to compete in the American League East:

“I actually like being the underdog,” said Lucchino, who then compared his club with the rebuilt, back-in-business Toronto Blue Jays, who spent a ton of money this offseason in an attempt to revitalize baseball in a city where most people tuned out the game since the Roberto Alomar-Joe Carter glory days of the early 1990s.

Lucchino said he reminded Blue Jays president Paul Beeston that “there’s no trophies for winning the offseason. If he wants to go into the season feeling he is the prohibitive favorite, that’s great. We’re just scrappy underdogs trying to win for our franchise and for our fans.”

Yup. He said it. I kinda think he meant it, too. I can only imagine how well this is going over in Boston right about now, or how much New York Yankees fans will have with those words in the coming months.

Tweet of the Day: Only fitting it was motivated by Marlon Byrd.

Photo of the Day: Miguel Cabrera tries on his Triple Crown.

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(@JustinVerlander)

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