08/13/10 2:43 AM ET
Kemp impressive in return to lineup
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Kemp homered, singled twice, and drove in four runs in the Dodgers' 10-9 loss to the Phillies.
"Kemp was better," said manager Joe Torre. "He had good at-bats."
Kemp also was the subject of another rumor on Thursday, this time a radio report that said he wants to be traded, a report he denied.
"Where do they get this stuff?" asked Kemp, who did not start on Tuesday and Wednesday after striking out four times on Sunday. "It's like the tabloids. It's not true."
Though Kemp hasn't mentioned a trade, his agent has. Dave Stewart, the former Dodger, told the Los Angeles Times that the Dodgers could fill holes by trading Kemp. He went further by complaining that criticism of Kemp by coaches Bob Schaefer and Larry Bowa has made playing difficult for his client.
General manager Ned Colletti reiterated earlier comments that he does not intend to trade Kemp.
Torre had originally planned to have Kemp sit only on Tuesday, but after Jay Gibbons went 3-for-4 with a homer in Kemp's place, Torre started Gibbons again on Wednesday; he went 0-for-4.
"He's frustrated, I'll tell you that," said Torre, who met with Kemp on Sunday. "He kept saying, 'I'm trying.' I know. It's not that easy. A number of young players in the past have had success, and maybe they start thinking, 'This isn't that tough.' I'm not saying he doesn't put in the time. He does. But it's the mental part of handling failures."
Torre cited Mark Whiten, a player of comparable talent and who also reached the Major Leagues quickly. Kemp was initially a basketball star who turned to baseball in high school and reached the Major Leagues without a full season at either Double-A or Triple-A.
"Mark Whiten hadn't played a lot of baseball, and they have some similarities in the crudeness of it, meaning you just haven't played or polished what you do," said Torre. "There's really no substitute for experience. You can have people talk to you, but until you experience the stuff, you can't really get a grip on it."
Against Blanton, Belliard starts at third
PHILADELPHIA -- Ronnie Belliard started at third base for the Dodgers on Thursday night instead of Casey Blake, but manager Joe Torre said it was simply a one-game matchup decision.
"It's strictly the numbers against [Phillies starter Joe Blanton]," said Torre. "[Blake will] be back in there tomorrow."
Blake is 1-for-21 with seven strikeouts against Blanton lifetime. Belliard is 3-for-8.
The move paid off early, with Belliard plating the game's first run with an RBI single in the first inning.
The prospects for Friday night's series opener in Atlanta are just as bleak for Blake and two of his fellow starting infielders. Against Braves starter Tim Hudson, Blake is 0-for-7, Jamey Carroll is 0-for-8 and Ryan Theriot is 0-for-6.
Positive signs for Weaver after session
PHILADELPHIA -- Reliever Jeff Weaver came out of a Wednesday bullpen session in good shape and hopes to be back in action soon, without the necessity of a Minor League rehab assignment.
"I felt good after the 'pen," said Weaver, who is on the disabled list with soreness in his left knee. "I just have to stay away from jogging and avoid the pounding on it."
Weaver said that the tenderness he felt in the knee when he landed as he delivered pitches wasn't consistent, but he lacked the trust that the knee wouldn't bite from pitch to pitch.
He said that his arm feels fine, and he is hopeful that a few simulated games scheduled for next week will have him ready to return to action.
Jansen taking stunning debut in stride
PHILADELPHIA -- Rookie reliever Kenley Jansen hasn't allowed an earned run in any of his seven appearances, a stunning debut for anyone let alone someone who was catching at Class A last year and pitching at Class A three months ago.
Not only is Jansen making it look easy (11 strikeouts in seven innings), he makes it sound easy.
"[Minor League pitching coaches] Charlie Hough and Danny Darwin told me just do the same thing up here I was doing down there and I would be just fine, and I believed what they said," Jansen said. "They both had 20 years in the big leagues. I trust them. So when I came up, that took the pressure off me."
Manager Joe Torre hasn't been babying Jansen, instead using him in close-and-late situations. Jansen admits that before receiving Hough and Darwin's advice, he was a little intimidated at the thought of facing Major League hitters.
"I thought that Major League hitters would be harder than A or Double-A, and they are better hitters, definitely," said Jansen. "So I give them credit, but not too much credit."
Jansen said that his arrival in July might have seemed stunning to some, considering his inexperience, but it was only slightly ahead of his personal timetable.
"It sounds crazy, but in Spring Training I thought I might get up by September," he said. "I didn't think it would be July, but they have confidence in me, and I'm not afraid of being here. I feel comfortable here."
Eric Stephen of Truebluela.com notes that the seven consecutive scoreless appearances of at least one inning marks a record for the start of a Dodgers career.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.