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Can Matt Kemp get the message? Joe Torre keeps him on bench in Dodgers opener against Giants

The lineup for the Dodgers’ showdown with the Giants was posted Monday, once again lacking the name Matt Kemp.

One day after sitting against the Yankees in the finale of that high-profile series, Kemp was back on the bench against Barry Zito in what is actually a more significant series. Division games count like two games.

And still no Kemp -- and Manager Joe Torre isn't promising he’ll be in the lineup Tuesday either.

It’s not just that Kemp is struggling at the plate (.196 in June), but on the field and on the bases.

Reed Johnson started in his place Sunday and had a pair of doubles, making it easier for Torre to justify sitting Kemp again Monday.

"Kemp has good numbers against Zito, but Reed had a good game [Sunday] night so I just decided to go with the same lineup that scored some runs,’’ Torre said.

Kemp has such a seemingly casual attitude, he can be hard to read. Or if you try, it can be an unflattering read.

He doesn’t exactly emanate competitive fire. His energy seems focused on being cool, both in the clubhouse and too often on the field. He comes off so relaxed, his focus and intensity come into question.

And his manager is the laid-back Torre. Still, Torre clearly was irate when Kemp was picked off second base in the ninth inning Wednesday against the Angels. Though not nearly as irate as if, say,  Tommy Lasorda were his manager.

It would have been interesting to see how the fiery Lasorda handled the immensely talented Kemp. Maybe he gets the most out of him; maybe he crushes him.

Torre has been patient to the extreme, but benching him two consecutive days is his subtle signal of unhappiness. As is his not promising Kemp will be back in the lineup Tuesday.

"We'll see," Torre said. "I'm going to take it a day at a time. Reed has given us a little energy and  we need that energy today."

They need that energy every day. They would prefer to get it from Kemp.

Certainly, he will be back in the lineup soon. There’s just no guarantee he’ll have received the message.

-- Steve Dilbeck
 
Comments () | Archives (32)

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What's more important to torre? Sending a message or winning the game? Kemp owns Zito. If you want to send him a message, bench him again tomorrow night but for the good of the team, he should be playing tonight.

During Saturday's game between the Dodgers and Yankees, Matt Kemp hit a double and on the radio broadcast, Rick Monday mentioned that Matt Kemp was jogging into second base when the ball was misplayed in the outfield. Monday rightly questioned Kemp's nonchalant attitude. If his attitude in games is the same as his attitude in the clubhouse and to his profession as well, the Dodgers seriously need to consider trading him while they can still get great value for him. I agree with Torre's decision to sit him for a few days to see if he "gets it." If he returns with a better attitude, great. If not, then they know what to do.

okay, your last sentence was uncalled for. that was a cheap shot steve. i guess we can put you in the anti-kemp bandwagon.

ITS HIGH TIME HE JUST HAVE TO EXPLORE AND RECONSIDER HIS DESIRE TO BE IN THIS TEAM IT LOOKS LIKE THEY HAVE GOT A HIDDEN AGENDA OR SOMETHING GOING ON BEHIND THE DOORS HE IS VERY TALENTED AND I AM SURE HIS AGENT WILL HELP HIM TO SECURE ANOTHER CONTRACT IN A TEAM THAT APPRECIATES HIM MORE

the dodger's bleacher report had a post that stated that the move that fuentes used to pick-off kemp was a clear balk. how come there has been no other comment on this by any beat writer? is everyone that follows the dodgers anti-kemp? it seems that from his rookie year, he's been getting hammered by the press, the whole kent episode and the veterans v. rookie thing when grady was manager, the colletti bashing, and now this. without blatantly saying it, it seems everyone is implying that kemp has become somewhat of a primadonna. true?

I HOPE AFTER THE 2YEAR CONTRACT HE GETS A NEW CONTRACT WITH A BETTER TEAM WERE THERE IS MOTIVATION THEY DONT EVEN RECALL OR SAY MUCH HE HAS DONE TO CONTRIBUTE IN THE WINS IN THE PREVIOUS GAMES WHAT A TEAM NO TEAM WORK THEY CANT EVEN PROMOTE TEAM SPIRIT I AM PRAYING THE GIANTS BEAT THE HELL OUT OF THEM COZ WE TEND TO WONDER WETHER THIS IS ABOUT KEMP PLAYING ABILITIES OR SOMETHING PERSONAL

HOW DO WE GET HIS AGENTS CONTACT I KNOW ITS DAVE STEWART HE NEED A HEADS UP BEFORE THIS TEAM DESTROYS HIM THERE IS A REASON BEHIND HIS ATTITUDE SOMETHING FISHY GOING ON WITH THIS TEAM I TELL YOU

Great move benching Kemp, and long over due. But Joe, how about sending a similar message to Russell Martin. Martin may not be as phlegmatic as Kemp, but his hitting is just as anemic and his production is far worse. I mean what is A. J. Ellis' purpose on the team. Is he just there to be in the lumber business as he rides the pine?

To paraphrase the lyric from the song Heart from the play Damn Yankess, why not use Ellis. He just might play better, because he certainly couldn't be worse. Or as some of the graduates of L A Unified might say, worser.

HI Dodger Fan: That was hardly a cheap shot. Knowing Kemp, just a realistic question. Im not for or against Kemp. I just want a focused ballplayer whos playing up to his ability.

HE IS A HUMAIN BEING WITH FEELING THERE IS CONSTRUCTIVE CRITISM AND THEN THERE IS NEGATIVE BASHING WITH A HIDDEN AGENDA LIKE TORRES TRYING TO HUMILIATE HIM IN A WAY I LIKE HIS ATTITUDE COZ ITS REALLY HARD WHEN YOU CANT GET THE SUPPORT FROM THE TEAM MANAGER IT DEMOTIVATES A PERSON I AGREE WITH DASH I HOPE HIS AGENT HAS TO FIND A BETTER PLAN AND BETTER DEAL FOR HIS CLIENT

RHIANNA!!!!!

Trade him already!
.
I hate being seen at Dodger games wearing a bag over my head.

The Dodgers simply ...
s i m p l e: get a veteran who is verbal but can inspire or make KC Blake be this guy?

Is there anyone who can come out of retirement who can inspire???

Lakers had Fisher, he was there not for his play but for his ability to motivate his team mates.

Remember Kirk Gibson, who made the clubhouse a funhouse, but who also knew how to fire up his team mates. It's a new era. These guys are from a generation known as the me me me generation.

Psychologically it's tougher to get to these guys who are full of potential. Not being able to sleep at night after Sundays meltdown is a characteristic of a player who does care. I see the role handed over to KC Blake (I saw him at Universal Studios with his family 3 weeks ago). This guys doesn't look like he talks much. But he's gonna have to take on that role because of his age.

Torre, KC is waiting for your call. Call him sometime.

The thing is with the exeption of like 3 players theres a ton of mediacracy running rampant in the organization at this moment in time. You can tell even though Ethier is struggling he's actually trying. This "trying" will pay off for him sooner than later. You can tell who tries. The problem is that you can also have to be relaxed to be a good hitter just like in basketball. They need the "belief" factor. HOW CAN THEY START BELIEVING AT A TIME LIKE THIS?? We'll soon find out but going on very small tiny streak helps... They can't overthink as well, baseball is basic not too complicated. OVERTHINKING CREATES A VERY BAD SPIRAL DOWNWARD WHICH IS WHAT I THINK MARTIN IS DOING. I would say focus and ease of mind will bring this back. Maybe trying to meditate on an off day and trying to bring the group back together by easing themselves unforced. Just go to a comedy show or something. Get some guy who is a fun extrovert as apposed to a jerk extrovert on the team. Maybe laughing together or something. The teams that always win have a personality. WHAT IS THE DODGER PERSONALITY? The Yanks personality speaks for itself. WHAT IS THIS TEAMS PERSONALITY????

Kemp does a have laid back attitude and gait in the out field. I thought he was "cured" last year with Joe batting him 8th most of the year, even though he hovered around .300 and 100 RBIs. For me, I am troubled by how he saunters down to first base on an infield grounder. With his speed he his bound to pick up an extra hit or force an error a couple times a month a least.

Colletti, it seems, only made matters worse by calling him out in the press, when logically, you can call out every member of the team, esp Joe! There is some kind of message being sent, but it doesn't appear to be working!

It doesn't matter how the Dodgers treat Kemp, Dave Stewart will move him to a different team as soon as he is a free agent. Stewart has such a grind against the Dodgers that I don't see any of his clients willingly signing with the club if they have other options. What the club needs is for the other players to hold Kemp accountable and for him to get a little bid of Kobe's attitude of trying to become on of the game's greats.

Kemp is BIGGEST KLOWN on the team, a feat that's quite remarkable, really, considering 2 other "regulars" are named russell martin & blake dewitt(less)....
butt what makes KLOWN KEMP "out-standing" in his field (as he often appears "lost" as he's standing out in his CF!) is factoid that KLOWN KEMP has an abundance of natural/athletic ability, yet it is kinda entertaining in an ironic sense to watch him waste it all???

Certainly I hope that Kemp gets it and hopefully Blake's influence will help with his attitude. Kemp is one of the keys to this club making any significant progress this season. With his outfield play, the Dodgers might be better suited to moving Kemp to left field next season and either re-signing Reed Johnson to play center or going out and getting another center fielder. But for this season, if we're going to have any success, we need Kemp.

>I AGREE WITH DASH...

I'll bet you do.

Interesting that 4 'different' posters all support Kemp, and speak of conspiracy (SOMETHING GOING ON BEHIND THE DOORS , HIDDEN AGENDA, SOMETHING PERSONAL, SOMETHING FISHY GOING ON ).

Oh, and 'they' all use caps...

Odd coincidence...

Cannot believe it took Torre this long to figure out. Good decision. When he benched him the other night I could feel the whole team sort of exhale. Johnson had a great game in his stead and showed us a glimpse of what having another intelligent hitter in the lineup could do for the team. Leave him on the bench.....he has been killing us with all his bad jumps in the outfield, strike outs, dumb base running mistakes and the casual what I did wrong is not important attitude. Until this guy takes ownership of his faults and mistakes, then shows us he is learning from them and trying to make improvements he will always be what he has been....."flashes of potential". His head has stunted his own growth.

A better plan a better deal really wow you guys must not know much about baseball. He is not a free agent until after the 2012 season. They bough out first two arb years. Although I realize he is not a natural cf I like watching the guy play when he tries. I hope the message gets through to him. Look the guy has all the talent in the world lets see what he does with it

Just last week I was defending Kemp (sort of) by blaming Colletti for bringing him down by putting his head on a stake in the public square, but the time has come for Matt to get over his serious case of "cranial rectitus" (a medical term I made up to describe Matt's current attitude and play) and get his head back into the game of baseball. I feel the same way about Martin. Heck, even Manny has managed to find some motivation (Red Sox?) and his swing of late. I'm not convinced that Torre is one of the "greatest" managers in baseball, but if benching Kemp helps him get over his condition, I'm all for it.

I cannot believe all these posts seemingly feeling sorry for poor little Matt Kemp. His head is never in the game and he really doesnt seem to care much. I have seen him too many times mess something up or not come through when it really matters and right after he's joking around, messing around in the outfield like he doesnt give a crap. This isnt little league, high school or even college. He is a professional and should take this business seriously. He's not here to learn. Whats with this " I hope he goes to a team that appreciates him" bs? Appreciates what? Having no heart or brain? An "I dont really care attitude"? I agree that he has all the talent in the world but it doesnt really matter if he isnt hustling all the time, doesnt have his head in the game and is more concerned with being cool. How frustrating!!!!

GEEZ!!! So much venom towards Kemp. I said it was OK to bench him... not kill him!!! Good lord... you guys are probably the same ones who were after Ethier a couple of years ago when he was about the same age as Kemp is now. Good thing management wasn't listening then!! You people can't seem, or aren't old enough to remember what it was like when you were his age. Maybe, I'm just a little too old, but I can remember when patience (or lack thereof) cost the Dodgers... big time. Anyone here remember a guy named Pedro Martinez? Probably not. Kemp is going to be a great player who WILL HAVE A GREAT CAREER. You guys are the same people who a few years from now will talk about how the Dodgers screwed up by running him out of town back in 2010. Incidently..Stewart DOES NOT hate the Dodgers, he had a chance to tell management to stuff it on Kemps contract and wait for arbitration next year when his Gold Glove, Silver Slugger would be eligible for big bucks. He didn't. All I can say is CHILL... You want to run Matt out of town??? Keep posting this tripe right here where Matt (& Stewart) can see how the "supposed" fans feel about the guy.

Glad to see additional comments coming in on this post. It was hard to believe what at first seemed to be not only a majority supporting Kemp, but seeing him as some great victim of a vast conspiracy. Perhaps Hillary has been advising this loose group.

The criticism of Kemp has been rather tepid and certainly valid. Joe Torre never shows up his players in public,so it's hard to understand this passionate defense of an underperforming and seemingly lightly motivated athlete. One need not throw equipment to show that one cares. I think the average fan seeks only hustle and concentration, even a smile would be optional.

Commenter Jim Green makes some interesting points about similarities in these posts, but leaves out one other thing they had in common. They were basically incomprehensible. I mean it was truly difficult to understand just what these folks were saying, other than Kemp--good, Dilbeck, fans, Dodger management--bad.

If one is going to be posting articles in a blog, one should expect and welcome critical responses, but if this sort of inscrutable twaddle is representative of what you must wade through each day, Steve, I don't think I envy you as much as I used to.

What's with all the caps lock kids? Sensitevity? There's no SENSITIVITY in baseball! These guys come across as Kemp's personal coterie of p.r. men. I know this kid has sky-is-the-limit talent, I've seen him have outstanding AB's this month but a whole lot more often I've seen him get behind in the count 0-1 and start hacking blindly with his head turned way to the left looking for some club to go to. And for "Dang": Gibson came into spring training and immediately killed what ever "funhouse" some of the guys thought they were in. His ruthless determination set the tone for the whole club and only later in the summer after many 9th innning comebacks against the best teams in the league(except for the mets) were Micky Hatcher and the Stuntmen allowed to cut up a little. After he hit that one off of Eck was the first smile I saw from him all year. Kemp could be the best player in baseball but he needs alot more of that ruthless determination. Maybe it's under the gatorade on the bench. Good move.

This one isn't hard to figure out: Joe was furious at Kemp over getting picked off... and clearly didn't like the way Kemp behaved/reacted over the next few days.

So Joe sent a message to Kemp Wednesday night ... Thursday, Friday and Saturday go by, and Joe gets even more ticked off, and benches Kemp in a nationally televised game, and then again Monday to make sure everyone notices.

Joe's patient with kids who try; Kemp's attitude is the problem. He strikes out way too much, he doesn't run the bases very well, and he's not getting better in the field. Guys who get better in the field do it the hard way -- they take a million grounders or a million fly balls. I get the impression Kemp isn't working hard enough for Joe's liking.

Just another lazy coconut.

Well, Ramirez went out during the 1st inning against Frisco(2nd game), and Kemp is in. If Ramirez goes down the Dodgers would most likely bring up Paul but for now everyone has to play. The only one left is Anderson.

Re: Matt Kemp...
Why the criticism on Matt Kemp.. . He is got to be in the top 10 center-fielders in baseball and can run down balls that others only watch.
This guy is a stud who might be distracted by his new girlfriend but should not be treated badly by the manager or the general manager... The Dodgers have a real chance of winning the division and they shouldn't bicker in public.
I would also like to go on record as saying that Frank Macorte is a carpet bagger and he is not worthy of owning a proud franchise like the the Dodgers...
(Which is why he got turned down on his request to own the Red Sox)
He isn't even worthy of being called"The Parking Lot Attendent"

Matt Kemp

I'm Worried...


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