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Los Angeles Dodgers: Matt Kemp's Rehab Going Poorly in Rancho Cucamonga

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Los Angeles Dodgers: Matt Kemp's Rehab Going Poorly in Rancho Cucamonga
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Matt Kemp steps in for his first at-bat on Aug. 31 against the Lancaster JetHawks.

COMMENTARY | Matt Kemp has spent time on the disabled list three separate times this season -- twice for his shoulder and once for his ankle. He's on a rehab assignment with the High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, and things couldn't be going any worse.

You don't need to be present to know 0-for-18 with seven strikeouts is bad, but Kemp looks equally bad at the plate.

I was in Rancho Cucamonga on Aug. 31 for the Quakes' game against the Lancaster JetHawks (Houston Astros' affiliate), and I'm a little concerned about his hitting mechanics right now. I took some video of the Los Angeles Dodgers' slugger looking like anything but.

Kemp's timing is so far off. He's late on mediocre fastballs. His pitch recognition is poor, swinging at far too many pitches out of the strike zone and putting together poor at-bats.

Kemp didn't make any hard contact for me and hasn't since beginning his assignment on Aug. 29. These are early-20s pitchers getting the best of -- when he's right -- one of the best and most dangerous hitters in baseball. Typically, it isn't about results, but going hitless in five games in Class-A ball is something to be slightly concerned about.

The Dodgers are going to need Kemp heading into the playoffs. Thankfully, their 12 1/2-game lead looks insurmountable for the Arizona Diamondbacks, so the Dodgers don't necessarily need him back right now.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told me and the media as much on Sunday.

"We want to make sure he's feeling good," Mattingly said. "I want to make sure he's comfortable and ready to go out there.

"I know he doesn't feel good yet at the plate, so he's not pushing us to say, 'I want to be there tomorrow.' The thought is, he's going to continue to play -- we just don't know the logistics of all that."

The Quakes clinched a playoff spot Sunday, so Kemp is eligible to continue his rehab with the team when it begins its playoff series against the Inland Empire 66ers (Los Angeles Angels affiliate) on Sept. 4.

If Kemp doesn't stay with the Quakes or needs more time if/when the Quakes are eliminated, he'd return to the Dodgers' complex in Glendale, Ariz., in the Instructional League.

The poor performance in Rancho Cucamonga is surprising, considering the last time he came of the disabled list he went 3-for-4 with a home run, double and three RBIs. His ankle and shoulder appear to be fine, but something is messing with his timing. The most important thing is he feels good physically. He was clearly frustrated as he left the field Aug. 31.

Yes, he's facing unfamiliar pitching, but he's also facing pitchers who probably won't ever sniff a major-league roster.

Kemp has another few days to figure it out. But he'll need to get back to facing major-league pitching before the end of this month. Adding a bat of Kemp's caliber for the playoffs is almost unprecedented and is an embarrassment of riches for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers have survived this long without him, but they'll need him to make a deep postseason run.

Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Dodger blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.

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