Dodgers

Kemp Hoping To Return By All-Star Break

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Harry How/Getty Images

Harry How/Getty Images

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp still is optimistic about playing in the All-Star game next month in Kansas City — as long as he’s sure he will be healthy for the stretch run with NL West-leading Los Angeles.

Whether manager Don Mattingly and the medical staff give him the go-ahead is another question altogether. Kemp said he and Mattingly have discussed the All-Star game and will do so again.

“Of course I want to play but I’ve got to do what’s best for the team,” Kemp said Thursday, before going through an extensive rehab workout of running on the field.  “If I’m not ready, I can’t play, but as of right now I plan on playing. We’ve discussed some stuff. When that point comes, we’ll get to it and figure out what we’re going to do.”

Kemp has been on the disabled list for a second time this season since May 31 with the same strained left hamstring that first sidelined him from May 14-29.

Kemp, the runner-up for last year’s NL MVP and the National League’s All-Star votes leader with 3,322,009 in baseball’s latest count this week, insists he won’t play in the Midsummer Classic if there is any question he won’t be healthy for the long haul.

He is flattered by the fans’ support.

“It means a lot, it shows that the fans really appreciate the way I play the game, and I thank them for that,” Kemp said. “That’s pretty tight right there, so I’m going to definitely try to do whatever it takes to play in the game.”

The Dodgers haven’t put a timetable on Kemp’s return, though Mattingly has said just after the All-Star break is the goal. Kemp, who half-joked during spring training that he would become the first player to ever hit 50 home runs and steal 50 bases, is batting  .355 with 12 homers and 28 RBIs in 36 games and has two stolen bases.

“The most important thing is being ready for the second half,” Kemp said before the finale of a series against the Oakland Athletics. “I would love to play in the All-Star game. I want to play in the All-Star game, but I’ve got to be ready. I feel great. I can’t really say when it’s going to be, I’ve just got

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