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Dodgers President Kasten Defends Struggling Kemp Amid Crowd’s Boos

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Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts to his line out to end the fifth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on May 7, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts to his line out to end the fifth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on May 7, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Dodgers star center fielder Matt Kemp has been hearing the boo-birds at Dodger Stadium for about a week now as he continues to struggle — now Dodgers president Stan Kasten is speaking on the issue.

Kasten spoke with ESPN Radio 710, and was asked about the fans booing the once-dominant Kemp.

“I guess it’s understandable. Poor Matt, he’s trying so hard, and it’s not working out for some reason,” Kasten said. “We don’t know a specific reason for this. He’s taking extra time with our coaches, and none of us can identify with someone who was the best player in the game, and can’t imagine what he feels like.”

Kemp went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts against the Angels on Monday night, and also dropped a fly ball in the first inning of the game, which led to a run scored.

There has been plenty of speculation that Kemp’s shoulder has not fully healed following off-season surgery.

Kemp sustained an injury late in the 2012 season when he collided with the center field wall at Coors Field in Denver, and underwent the surgery to repair his shoulder.

Kemp started off 2012 as the best player in baseball. In April alone, he batted .417 with 12 home runs, 25 RBI, and an .893 slugging percentage. He ended the season with 23 home runs — his fewest since 2008 — and just nine stolen bases, which was the fewest he’d had since he was called up in 2006.

This season, Kemp is batting .253 with just two home runs and 17 RBI’s, and as of Tuesday afternoon, has struck out in 12 of his last 22 at-bats.

Despite the speculation, Kasten insists that Kemp is not playing hurt.

“Internally we’re all assured that he isn’t (hurt),” Kasten told ESPN Radio. “We can’t blame it on that. The doctors, trainers, even Matt have all told us that he isn’t.”

However, Los Angeles Times’ T.J. Simers suggests that Kemp has just been medically cleared to start lifting weights again.

Under this circumstance, you may be seeing Kemp looking more like Kemp, even if it takes more time, which is in short supply these days.

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