Kemp out of lineup for first time this year
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, mired in an 0-for-15 slump during which he struck out five times, was out of the starting lineup for the first time this season on Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels.
Kemp did get an at-bat in the ninth inning, striking out in the Dodgers' 6-5 loss.
"He was fighting himself [Saturday] night," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said before the game. "I noticed he was just trying to put the ball in play, and that isn't what we want from him. He just doesn't look as sure of himself. Especially with the off day [on Monday], this will give his mind a break moreso than the physical part."
Kemp had played every inning of every game this season except the final three innings of a 13-inning game at Washington on April 24, when he was double-switched out of the game after being thrown out trying to steal second base for the final out in the top of the 11th.
Kemp entered Sunday hitting only .178 in June, with 15 strikeouts in 51 plate appearances and three RBIs. He went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in Saturday night's 4-2 loss to the Angels, making the final out of all four innings in which he batted and stranding a total of six runners on base, three of them in scoring position.
Meanwhile, Kemp has once again become noticeably susceptible to breaking balls low and away, a pitch he seemed to have learned to lay off not that long ago before reverting to his old habit of chasing it.
Kemp hit seven home runs in his first 14 games and three in his next 48.
"Again, I try to relate it to when I played," Torre said. "When you're in a good groove, you can see flash bulbs going off in center field, and it doesn't even bother you. But on other days, you can hear whispers in the upper deck and you're wondering what they're saying about you. That is what makes this game tough to play."Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.