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Dodgers at full strength after activating Matt Kemp off 15-day DL

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

The Dodgers welcome Matt Kemp back to the lineup on Sunday.
The Dodgers welcome Matt Kemp back to the lineup on Sunday. (USATSI)

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For the first time in a long time, the Dodgers are at full strength offensively. The team activated Matt Kemp off the 15-day DL on Sunday, sending down outfielder Scott Van Slyke in a corresponding roster move.

Kemp, 28, missed a little more than two weeks with inflammation in the AC joint of his surgically repaired left shoulder. He missed nearly four weeks with a hamstring strain earlier this season. The Dodgers also lost Hanley Ramirez (thumb, hamstring) and Carl Crawford (hamstring) for significant periods of time this year.

In 61 games around the injuries, Kemp hit .254/.309/.357 (88 OPS+) with four home runs and nine stolen bases. His season-long slump could be the result of his offseason shoulder surgery, especially since it involved his front shoulder. There's evidence suggesting it takes a year or more for a hitter to return to normal following such a procedure.

The Dodgers currently have four everyday-caliber outfielders in Kemp, Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig, so manager Don Mattingly has a good problem on his hands. He'll have to juggle everyone and balance playing time. Ethier's name has popped up in trade rumors, but the team seems unlikely to make a move until they know Kemp and Crawford are physically in the clear.

Van Slyke, 26, has hit .241/.309/.517 (129 OPS+) with six doubles and six home runs in 33 games for the Dodgers this season. The right-handed bat has given the team a .256/.348/.564 (147 OPS+) against southpaws this year.

At 49-47, the Dodgers are just half a game back of the Diamondbacks in the NL West. They've won 19 of their last 24 games to erase a 9 1/2-game deficit in the division.

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