April 1 would not be a problem for slugger Matt Kemp to make the Los Angeles Dodgers opening-day lineup, agent Dave Stewart said Tuesday. But the Dodgers season opens March 22 because they're starting in Australia for a pair of games against the Arizona Diamondbacks. And that's nine days too soon for Kemp.
Stewart said he doesn’t think Kemp will be ready for 3/22 opener in Australia. “If the season opened April 1, I think Matt would be ready.”
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 21, 2014
Kemp is coming off an injury ravaged 2013 season in which he was limited to 73 games. He's rehabbing from shoulder and ankle surgery. Stewart followed up his comments by saying he just doesn't want Kemp to rush back. From the Los Angeles Times:
Stewart emphasized that Kemp has not suffered a setback in his rehabilitation and said he was telling Kemp to consider postponing his season debut only a precaution.
"His biggest issue with injuries has been trying to get back too soon," Dave Stewart said. "I'm urging him to make sure he's totally healthy."
Asked how receptive Kemp has been to his advice, Stewart laughed and said, "Not very."
Stewart continued, "He's really, really biting at the bit."
Stewart obviously has his client's best interest in mind, but he's also the same Dave Stewart who predicted, or even projected, that Kemp would be traded during this offseason. That didn't happen, and probably wasn't going to, considering Kemp's mending health and hefty salary. But there's some kind of method to Stewart's madness, right?
The Times' story included other pertinent details to Kemp's rehab, including:
• The Dodgers also have Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig able to play the outfield. It's OK if Kemp is a little late in the spring.
• Kemp has been cleared to run on an anti-gravity treadmill.
• He's been lifting weights, which Kemp couldn't do in the previous offseason because he was recovering from a more serious shoulder operation. Note that he finished with a .395 slugging percentage in '13, easily the worst of his career.
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