Matt Kemp cradled a ball top in his hands. The tone was a same, a blue he had ragged in a Dodger Stadium outfield for 9 years. Only a trademark was unfamiliar, a “D” stitched where “L.A.” used to be, a open selling ploy display a thoroughfare of time. Kemp traced his float opposite a lettering.
“It’s a tiny different, man,” Kemp pronounced to a tiny organisation station nearby his locker. “How we like it?” He shrugged his shoulders. “Hey, we only work here, man.”
That existence could not be abandoned as pitchers and catchers — along with a few position players — reported to Camelback Ranch on Tuesday morning. It felt remote even after a Dodgers reacquired him in December. Yet here Kemp stood. He looked fit, 40 pounds lighter than a magisterial figure he displayed during his final days as an Atlanta Brave. He sounded ebullient, beholden for even his remote possibility of violation stay as a Dodger again.
For a group returning a strenuous infancy of a pennant-winning roster, a participation of Kemp serves as this spring’s many intriguing story line. During his initial reign as a Dodger, he reached dual All-Star teams and finished as an MVP runner-up. The awaiting of a reconstruction in Los Angeles gay him.
“I’ve got a whole new opinion on life,” Kemp said. “I’m carrying fun. I’m going to have fun and float this thing until a wheels tumble off. Literally.”
Kemp, 33, stressed a knowledge of his years and his passion for Los Angeles. He voiced his thankfulness about returning to a Dodgers after being traded divided following a 2014 season. He simplified his substantial critique about a city not being a “baseball town.” He doubtful reports rising about his disastrous change on a Braves’ clubhouse. He insisted on his viability for a championship contender. “I’ve got a lot left in me,” he said.
Yet a Dodgers did not acquire Kemp with a goal of personification him in left field. His value arose from his contract. In lapse for Kemp, a Dodgers sent a four-player package that enclosed Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy to Atlanta. The trade reset a Dodgers’ luxury-tax payroll and will concede them to sojourn underneath a $197-million threshold in 2018, definition they can pursue giveaway agents like Clayton Kershaw, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado subsequent winter with larger freedom.
The proclivity was financial. Kemp accepted a score. The pierce still dumbfounded him. He was dining with some friends in Dec when he perceived a call from his agent, Larry Reynolds. Reynolds sensitive Kemp he had been traded.
“Where?” Kemp asked.
Reynolds started to giggle as he upheld along a destination.
“Stop lying,” Kemp said.
The law done his control swim. Soon after, he listened from Dodgers officials. The group could not guarantee him much. They were actively looking to pierce his contract, for that he will accept $43 million over a subsequent dual seasons. Kemp would be a Dodger until a group could find him another home.
An ungainly dance ensued. The Dodgers did not entice Kemp to FanFest final month. The classification wanted to equivocate subjecting Kemp to questions about his status. Yet efforts to send Kemp elsewhere valid fruitless. A marketplace did not bloat for an aging outfielder who is noticed by defensive metrics as one of a misfortune in baseball.
Despite his clarity of limbo, Kemp worked out during Dodger Stadium during a winter and stayed in strike with his teammates. He took in a Los Angeles Lakers diversion with Kenley Jansen. He perceived a welcoming content summary from Kershaw a integrate of weeks ago.
“I’ve seen him during his best,” Kershaw said. “I know how good he can be. we know he still has a ability to strike a ball unequivocally well. we wish he gets that possibility to infer it here.”
Kemp stays a useful hitter. He swatted 19 home runs in 115 games with a .781 on-base-plus-slugging commission in 2017. It is his invulnerability that boundary his appeal. Kemp ranked 205th in Ultimate Zone Rating among a 208 outfielders who played during slightest 100 innings final season.
Manager Dave Roberts concurred Kemp’s stipulations in a field. He listed a contingent of factors that could assist a revival: bid level, aptness and positioning.
The Dodgers trust Kemp will be motivated, after 3 seasons spent in large joining basements, by an event on a contender. Kemp credited an softened diet — some-more water, smaller portions — along with a renewed seductiveness in conditioning for his upgraded physique. In prior years, a Dodgers employed modernized scouting reports to scrupulously position converted infielders like Chris Taylor and Howie Kendrick as they schooled a outfield.
“I design there to be a outrageous uptick in a metrics this year,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers will keep Kemp active during a spring. The group lists him as a aspirant for at-bats with Joc Pederson, Enrique Hernandez and Andrew Toles. Toles will be eyed delicately as he earnings from a ripped ACL. Kemp could form partial of a crew with Pederson. Or a front bureau could finally find another club, substantially from a American League, who is peaceful to take on partial of Kemp’s salary.
Until then, he is a Dodger. He arrived during Camelback Ranch final week. On Tuesday he bantered with reporters he remembered from a past and asked about a locale of former members of a beat. He joked about how he did not wish to control a grave interview.
“We’ve got a workout,” burst third baseman Justin Turner. “Don’t put him in a bad mood before we go outside.”
“That’s a thing about removing older,” Kemp said. “You can’t hurt my joy.”
Kemp confirmed that vibe via a morning. He stressed that he did not meant to impugn Los Angeles when he remarked final summer that by entrance to Atlanta he was finally personification in a “baseball town.”
“L.A., when we initial got here, it was all about Kobe and Shaq,” Kemp said. “As a years went on, as we started winning some-more games, a city came alive. We had a best fans. We became a ball town. Never pronounced L.A. wasn’t a ball town. we would never contend that. we adore L.A. we adore a fans. we would never disregard a fans who helped me get to who we was, and who we am.”
Kemp forked during a camera for emphasis.
“Bam. And that’s a truth.”
Kemp downplayed a stories that followed him from Atlanta, where he was described as a disastrous change on group culture.
“I don’t know how that came out in Atlanta that we was bad in a clubhouse,” Kemp said. “I don’t consider we was there prolonged adequate to be bad.”
His second reign as a Dodger competence not final over this spring. Kemp hopes for more.
“This is where we came up,” Kemp said. “This is where we grew up. we always wanted to win a World Series here, and win here. It was fun examination these guys final year play and get to a World Series. Why wouldn’t we wish to be a partial of it?”