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Dodgers OF Kemp cleared to start running

The SportsXchange

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp's recovery from October ankle surgery moved to another phase this weekend as he was cleared to increase his on-field activities.

Kemp has been limited to running on a treadmill, taking batting practice and fielding ground balls in the outfield through the first three weeks of spring training. But the latest MRI and examination of his left ankle showed sufficient healing for him to increase that activity and begin doing some running on the field.

"Stan (Conte, Dodgers' vice president of medical services) categorized this as step five of seven steps," manager Don Mattingly said. "There's still a couple stages to go through before he's ready to play in games."

Mattingly and Kemp emphasized that there is still no timetable for when Kemp will be cleared to take that step.

"Your guess is better than mine," Kemp said. "Honestly, it's a feeling thing. Not anybody can tell me how I feel but I can tell them how I feel. I have to be right with myself and make sure I'm able to do a first-to-third or be able to score on a base hit from second base. I don't want to have any negative thoughts in my head. I want to be able to go out there and play aggressive and steal bases when I can, and do some of those athletic things that everybody is used to me doing."

The Dodgers will break camp in Arizona on March 16 and fly to Australia for a two-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks on March 22-23. Kemp will not make that trip but could stay behind and continue his rehab at Camelback Ranch by playing in minor-league games or simulated games arranged on the minor-league side of the Dodgers' complex.

"I can't really put a timetable on it because I don't know what my body's going to feel like," Kemp said. "But everyone should know that I'm getting better."

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Chad Billingsley threw curveballs as part of his bullpen session Saturday. It was the first time Billingsley has thrown breaking balls since undergoing Tommy John surgery last April and represents another step forward in his recovery.

--RHP Zack Greinke left his first spring start after just four pitches with a mild right calf strain Thursday. Greinke was limited to flat-ground throwing the next two days and it is uncertain when he will return to pitching in games. The setback could take Greinke out of consideration to start one of the Dodgers' two games in Australia March 22-23.

--RHP Ross Stripling (one of the Dodgers' top-rated pitching prospects) began experiencing discomfort in his elbow about a week ago but did not say anything to Dodgers' trainers or coaches. After a two-inning appearance in the Dodgers' second Cactus League game, however, Stripling admitted to the pain and was sent for a contrast MRI on his elbow. The preliminary diagnosis is a strained ligament with the MRI expected to provide more specifics.

--IF/OF Chone Figgins started three of the Dodgers' first four Cactus League games, each at a different position -- shortstop, left field and center field. Figgins is in camp as a non-roster invitee trying to make the Dodgers as a utility player. He sat out all of 2013 after being released by the Seattle Mariners following the 2012 season and the Miami Marlins in spring training 2013.

--IF Justin Sellers was traded to the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations. Sellers was designated for assignment last week to clear a roster spot for SS Erisbel Arruebarrena, the Cuban defector signed by the Dodgers. Arruebarrena is still in the Dominican Republic working out at the Dodgers' complex there until he receives a visa to travel to the United States.

QUOTE TO NOTE

"I never thought running would be so fun." -- Outfielder Matt Kemp after being cleared to do some running on the field during workouts. Kemp is recovering from surgery on his left ankle last October.
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