SAN DIEGO -- With Matt Kemp putting the finishing touches on one of the great seasons in Dodgers history, his manager has a suggestion for next year.
Do it again.
"The trick for Matty is consistency over time. He's set the bar pretty high," Don Mattingly said Saturday. "Next year he comes out and hits 34 with 110 and hits .310 and steals only 39, it's like Matt had a bad year. Next year will be the trick, going out and doing it again. True greatness is over time, every year." As last year's disappointing season was coming to an end, Kemp predicted he would rebound in 2011 with a 40/40 year.
"He's backing up his word," said Mattingly. "That speaks to Matt, even though he hit 28 homers last year, it was a rough year. To me, that's saying it's not going to happen again. And the shape he came into camp, the word we've used is focused. It's been fun to watch."
Oddly, Mattingly said Kemp's strikeouts -- down from last year's record 170 but still a significant 154 -- almost work in his favor.
"Pitchers still are trying to get him out for the most part," Mattingly said. "If the game's on the line, they'll go to the next guy if they can. One thing he's got going for him, he strikes out enough that if you're the pitcher you think if I make a pitch, I can get him out. [Mark] McGwire was like that. There's a trap there and if you miss, he makes you pay."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.