07/04/12 1:26 AM ET
Eager to return to field, Kemp begins rehab stint
By Alex Angert / MLB.com
"I'm kind of getting used to it," he said about watching Los Angeles play on TV. "Now it's time to get back on the field and help my guys out."
Kemp made the first step toward that goal when he went 2-for-3 with a run, walk and strikeout while batting third as the designated hitter Tuesday night in his first rehab game with Class A Rancho Cucamonga.
Having only played in four games -- two with the Dodgers and two more with Triple-A Albuquerque -- since May 13, when he first strained his left hamstring, Kemp said it felt odd being back in action.
"I've been off for a while," he said. "Seeing live pitching and all, it felt a little weird. But as the game went on, I felt a little more comfortable. I think tomorrow it will be a lot better."
Kemp said he plans to play about five or six innings in center field on Wednesday and then take it from there. He noted the difficulty of getting loose as a DH, but said he felt comfortable on the basepaths once he got the adrenaline flowing again.
The All-Star center fielder was the center of attention in Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday night. The Quakes had a sellout crowd of 6,516 fans for the first time this year and a hoard of fans congregated outside the clubhouse to sneak a glimpse of him leaving the ballpark.
Sticking to tradition, Kemp was in charge of buying the spread for the players, who were treated to steak and ribs the night before from fellow rehabber Mark Ellis.
The center fielder signed a case of baseballs for the players after the game and joked around with the young Class A players, as well as his big league teammates Ellis and Javy Guerra.
While Kemp is just getting his rehabilitation assignment started, his Dodgers teammates are on the verge of being activated off the DL.
Guerra started the game and said he felt great after pitching one inning. The first batter he faced reached on an error, but Guerra got the next three out with ease. The reliever, who had to race to first to make an out, said his knee wasn't an issue at all and added he is ready to return to the Dodgers.
"I'm going to go back to L.A. tomorrow and see what they think," he said. "The time process is probably to activate me the next day after, but I'm not sure what they are discussing and what they're thinking. I know I'm fine and that was the biggest issue."
Ellis went 2-for-4 with a run in the last of four games with the Quakes. He finished his rehab assignment 4-for-14 while seeing as many pitches as possible, which was what he set out to do. The second baseman said he is expected to be activated from the DL on Thursday after taking a day off and he said he felt great at the plate and in the field.
"I feel like a normal ballplayer again," said Ellis, who was sidelined after surgery to his left leg in late May.
Tuesday was the first time all three had appeared in the same game since May 13 and all three players talked about how nice it was to be playing together, citing how excited they are to be back on the field with the rest of the Dodgers.
"Bam sucka," Kemp exclaimed after hearing Andre Ethier will likely be back after the All-Star break when he returns.
"We're going to get our whole team back, and that'll give us a little boost," he added, talking about Ethier's return. "Once we get everybody back, we're going to be more comfortable, and that's when baseball gets exciting in the second half."
Alex Angert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.