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It's Matt Kemp as you've never heard him: Dodgers outfielder agrees his approach has to change

August 2, 2010 | 11:40 am
Matt Kemp, contrite?

Matt Kemp, admitting lack of full effort?

Matt Kemp, saying he has no excuses for his performance?

It’s all true. It’s Kemp admitting he has to change his attitude. Kemp sounding a lot like the guy followers have been waiting on.

It happened in The Times column today by T.J. Simers. There was none of that Joe Cool persona, none of that casual approach, no arguing with a critique of his game.

The column started with Simers talking to the Dodgers’ resident firebug, third-base coach Larry Bowa, questioning the team’s intensity, approach and desire to win.

Which quickly led Simers to Kemp. And as always, Bowa was frank:

"I have one question I'd like to ask him, 'Are you dead tired when the game is over?’ My dad told me early on I should be exhausted after every game if I've done my batting practice, taken ground balls, backed up every play and gone all out. I wonder if he's ever felt like that?"

Among his, er, other qualities, Simers is an excellent reporter. So naturally he went to Kemp for a reaction.

Only Kemp didn’t act offended and upset. He actually agreed with Bowa’s less than flattering assessment.

"There's more there," Kemp said. "I agree. It's something I need to sit here and think about and then change."

Given that Kemp started the season like he was ready to become baseball’s next superstar, but has hit just .233 for the last two months, he’s not exactly in position to put up much of an argument. But he didn’t try to, either.

"I need to help this team out and I'm not doing it," Kemp told Simers. "I've wasted a lot of at-bats this year. Pitchers have gotten me 70% of the time, but it's not them getting me out, it's me."

Giving up at-bats, failing to lay off of that low, outside pitch, not routinely exploding out of the batter’s box -- Kemp agreed with it all.

"I feel it, trust me," he said. "Everything being said, I've said to myself. I have no excuses. I've never hit below .290 in my life."

Now, recognizing the problem and actually doing something about it can prove two completely different things.

But at least Kemp not only acknowledged the criticism, he agreed with it all. Hopefully for Kemp and the Dodgers, it’s a start.

-- Steve Dilbeck