Still, owners of baseball's best record, the Dodgers would much rather be playing with their All-Star center fielder in the lineup, and for the first time since May 13, they'll get to do just that when they face the Brewers on Tuesday night.
Kemp was activated on Tuesday after going on the disabled list on May 14 with a hamstring strain. He hopes to help the Dodgers avenge a 3-2 Brewers victory on Monday to start the series.
In two rehab games with Triple-A Albuquerque, Kemp homered in each.
"It wasn't about what they were able to accomplish down there as far as production," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said, speaking of both Kemp and injured outfielder Juan Rivera, though Rivera isn't scheduled to return until later in the week. "It was way more that they were going to be healthy and obviously it sounds like everything is good."
For two teams that have been hit hard by the injury bug this season, Tuesday's pitching matchup is all too fitting.
Dodgers starter Ted Lilly and Brewers starter Marco Estrada both landed on the DL, Lilly with shoulder inflammation and Estrada with a strained quad. That means a pair of callups will get the ball for the two clubs.
Both Nathan Eovaldi for the Dodgers and Mike Fiers for the Brewers will get called up to the big league club for Tuesday's game.
The 22-year-old Eovaldi is 2-2 with a 3.09 ERA for Double-A Chattanooga. He was 1-2 with a 3.63 ERA in 10 appearances with the Dodgers last year.
Fiers made two relief appearances for the Brewers last September, and he is 1-3 with a 4.42 ERA for Triple-A Nashville. He was a 22nd-round pick in 2009.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said he will likely call upon Fiers for at least two starts before Estrada is ready.
"We're going to need two starts for sure, we feel," Roenicke said. "We don't know how quickly Estrada is going to come; initially it was probably a little longer than just two starts, but he's coming along pretty good."
Brewers: Lucroy to DL after odd hand injury
Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy will miss 4-6 weeks with what the Brewers termed a "boxer's fracture" of the right hand. That diagnosis sounded more fearsome that it was; Lucroy said he was reaching under his hotel-room bed Sunday night for a lost sock when his wife shifted a suitcase, which fell on her husband's hand.
After injuring his elbow getting hit by a pitch on Friday, Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez returned to the lineup Monday. He showed no ill effects, going 2-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs.
The Brewers will use their seventh different starting pitcher this season on Tuesday. The club used six starters in 2011, the fewest in the majors.
Dodgers: Gwynn returns to bench role
Tony Gwynn filled in well for Kemp in center field, hitting .319 in his last 10 starts, but he will see his role change upon Kemp's return.
Gwynn likely will be used as a speed-and-defense guy off the bench, though his numbers indicate Mattingly might use him as a pinch-hitter. He is hitting 12-for-25 with runners in scoring position this season.
"I always try to make the most of my chances regardless of what the situation is," Gwynn said. "I'm just trying to get the team going and that's about it."
The Dodgers are 21-6 at Dodger Stadium this season, good for the best home record in the Major Leagues.
The Dodgers' lead of 6 1/2 games over the Giants is the largest divisional lead in the National League.
The Brewers are 9-15 on the road this season, with just one series victory.
Los Angeles is 29-17 all-time against the Brewers at Dodger Stadium.