WASHINGTON (AP) — Matt Kemp has plenty of souvenirs from his return to the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup: three hits and one injured ankle.
Kemp homered and doubled in the same inning Sunday in his first two at-bats off the disabled list. He went 3 for 4 in the Dodgers’ 9-2 win over the Washington Nationals.
But he hurt his left ankle sliding into home plate on a force play in the ninth inning and limped off the field. Manager Don Mattingly said the injury appears to be a sprain, and he doesn’t think the injury will put Kemp back on the DL.
“No I don’t,” Mattingly said with a laugh. “That’s what I said last time, too.”
Kemp was still limping in the clubhouse. He had the ankle treated with ice, but he said no X-rays were planned.
“It’s not bad. I hope it’s not bad,” Kemp said. “The biggest thing will be tomorrow when I wake up and see how it feels.”
Kemp, who had been hindered by inflammation in his left shoulder after offseason surgery, was activated from the 15-day DL before the game. He couldn’t help but smile as he spoke about his latest possible setback.
“I’m always off and on. Play some games, sit out some games,” he said. “It is what it is, man.”
The game marked the first time that Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford appeared together in the Dodgers starting lineup this season.
Kemp led off the second with a solo shot, then doubled home Andre Ethier in a seven-run inning against Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann.
He reached base with a walk in the ninth and was on third when Crawford hit a slow roller toward first with two outs. It would have been an infield hit had Kemp hustled home. Instead, he jogged and allowed the Nationals to make a play at the plate. He was hurt sliding into the catcher.
“I wasn’t running hard,” Kemp said. “I took a hit away from CC. CC has every reason to be mad at me because that was my fault, and the results of me not running hard to home plate kind of tweaked my ankle a little bit.”
Mattingly also gave rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig a day off from the starting lineup to “catch his wind and clear his head a little bit.”
Puig was hitting .160 (4-for-25) in his last six games after batting .407 (55-for-135) in his first 34 games. He was 0 for 9 with five strikeouts in the first two games against the Nationals. Mattingly said he doesn’t believe an injury is affecting Puig.
“He seemed a little lost to me the last couple of days, just kind of confused at the plate,” Mattingly said. “A day to watch sometimes is good,” Mattingly said.
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)