07/18/12 10:12 PM ET
All-Star Kemp has another title: Agent 0027
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
Tony Perez (1970), Larry Walker (1997) and Barry Bonds (2004) had been the only other players since 1921 to finish April with at least a .400 average, 10 homers and 20 RBIs.
Where would the 2012 season go for Matt Kemp? The possibilities were enormous. Then, just as our mind was wandering, a strained left hamstring dictated everything. Kemp was placed on the 15-day disabled list twice in May, the second one shelving him through the All-Star break.
"It's been frustrating watching and seeing how we've been playing," Kemp said last week in Kansas City, where Chipper Jones replaced him on the National League All-Star roster, "but if we get things going again, everybody's going to be playing the way they played at the beginning of the season."
Now, the Dodgers' star center fielder is back. He is a few games into his much-anticipated return, and delivered a walk-off homer in the 12th inning on Wednesday. And not only has Kemp returned to action, but he also is returning with a suave style, as something of an action figure himself.
Meet Agent 0027.
The athlete who just made history as the first Major League player ever to tweet during an All-Star Game -- indeed, during any MLB game -- is adding a persona.
Launched on Wednesday, the video serves as a reminder of what we were all thinking earlier this season, and as a setup for the months to come. It also stars Angela Martini, former Miss Universe Albania.
"Beast mode never sleeps," Kemp's character says in the video.
It is his signature term, a call to action. Kemp gets the call on his Samsung mobile device, and the metamorphosis begins as he marches past the framed jerseys of Dodgers immortals Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax, Roy Campanella and Jackie Robinson.
"I feel confident," Kemp said of his return. "I'm going to let it go. I'm going to play my game the way I need to play it and not play it any way else. There's no other way I know how to play except hard."
The Dodgers are set to begin a 10-game road trip on Friday against three NL contenders -- a trip that will cover the country in a sweeping fashion through the East (Mets), Central (Cardinals) and West (Giants).
The conclusion of that should make for an electric weekend series at AT&T Park. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain start back-to-back this Friday and Saturday against the Phillies, which means that Cain is lined up to face Kemp -- and the Giants could push back Lincecum a day given their off-day before the series, so that both of them pitch in that big series of NL West contenders.
Those are the kinds of matchups that can be plotted and anticipated again, now that Agent 0027 is on the field, resuming his pursuit of something special.
Said teammate Andre Ethier: "You can see what a difference it makes having a guy like Matty in that lineup to help the guys in front of him."