Matt Kemp runs bases, looking to start rehab assignment Thursday

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

Happy Matt Kemp is nearing his triumphant return.
Happy Matt Kemp is nearing his triumphant return. (USATSI)

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Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp is looking to return soon from a sprained ankle, and he took a big step toward said return Tuesday, when he ran the bases at full speed. He'll do so again Wednesday before a decision is made as to how to proceed, but beginning a rehab assignment with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga Thursday is a distinct possibility.

Kemp sounds pain-free, just as he professed to be before attempting to run the bases. Via the Los Angeles Times:

“I thought it went good today,” Kemp said. “It was my first day running on the bases. I was a little skeptical, but it turned out to be really, really good. It felt good. It was pretty fun to get out there and run. It's been a while.

“I was scared. I mean, not scared. Just a little hesitant, you know? Getting out there running for the first time, you don't know what to expect. You don't know what it's going to feel like, certain cuts, how you're going to respond. But it went better than I thought.”

Kemp has been out since spraining his ankle July 21.

Kemp is hitting .263/.319/.382 with 12 doubles, five homers and 27 RBI in 62 games this season. He's had to go on the DL with shoulder and ankle injuries this year. Remember, Kemp had offseason shoulder surgery and it's assumed he was dealing with the issue throughout the first half -- even though he won't admit it.

After returning from his shoulder-induced DL stint, Kemp hit .324/.390/.622 with three homers and 10 RBI in 11 games. We're talking about a guy who was the runner-up for NL MVP in 2011 and was the best player in baseball for the first month-plus of 2012, so a healthy return could make a huge impact and it appeared he was ready to get hot for a while prior to the ankle sprain.

Notable here is the Dodgers already have three quality (at minimum) outfielders in Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier. As far as what's going to happen with the group of four when Kemp comes back, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told the LA Times that "someone is going to be mad" everyday, suggesting he'll mix and match.

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