4/26/2014 8:33 P.M. ET
Kemp battling to find consistency at plate
By Scott Miller / Special to MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- A day after being ejected by plate umpire Angel Hernandez in the ninth inning, Matt Kemp was back in the lineup batting fifth against Rockies starter Juan Nicasio.
The ejection was just one more speed bump early in a season in which Kemp hasn't been able to shift out of first gear. Entering Saturday, he was hitting only .200/.294/.433 with three homers and seven RBIs. Most alarming: 21 strikeouts in 68 plate appearances.
"I'm good," Kemp said. "I'm good, brother."
Kemp has never been a low strikeout guy. Three times, he's had 150 or more in a season. His high was 170 in 668 plate appearances in 2010. He also had 159 in 689 plate appearances in a 2011 season in which he could have won the National League Most Valuable Player Award (he finished second to Milwaukee's Ryan Braun) and 153 in 657 plate appearances in 2008.
"Obviously, things are not going the way he was hoping," manager Don Mattingly said. "The more he stays steady, that's going to change.
"He hasn't played, it seems like, in a couple of seasons. Part of that is [the time off]. Matt is trying really hard. He wants to show us he's back."
Mattingly also thinks perhaps the four-man outfield rotation with Kemp, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig plays into it, too.
"I think they feel a little bit like, 'I've got to show what I can do to stay in the lineup,'" Mattingly said. "I think that's part of it."
Kemp homered and doubled, finishing 2-for-4, in the club's 6-3 victory over the Rockies on Saturday. He struck out once.
Kershaw to throw bullpen session Monday
LOS ANGELES -- The battle is on: ace lefty Clayton Kershaw vs. the Dodgers' medical team.
One day after his first rehabilitation assignment at Advanced Class A Rancho Cucamonga, Kershaw felt so good that he sees no reason why he needs another rehab start before joining the Dodgers rotation.
The club's medical staff, apparently, prefers a more conservative path to make sure Kershaw is all the way back before throwing his next Major League pitch.
Count manager Don Mattingly in favor of at least one more rehab outing, too.
"I am," Mattingly said Saturday. "And I know our medical staff is. I'm not sure Kershaw is buying in. We'll just see where we go."
Mattingly smiled as he spoke, not surprised at a player wanting to race back from an injury via the quickest possible route. Though Kershaw didn't speak Saturday -- "All good, all good," was all he offered before batting practice -- it's apparent that the 2013 National League Cy Young winner thinks he's ready to join the Dodgers right now.
"Are you kidding?" Mattingly said, grinning. "No question. No question."
Kershaw next will throw his normal between-starts bullpen session on Monday, and that's as far as the Dodgers are willing to commit to anything regarding him. After Monday?
"We'll see where it goes," Mattingly said.
Kershaw allowed one run (a home run) on two hits in five innings against Lancaster on Friday night in a no-decision. Over 56 pitches, Kershaw walked one and fanned six.
Extra innings not kind to Dodgers early on
LOS ANGELES -- Following Friday night's 11-inning loss to open the series with the Rockies, the Dodgers are 1-5 in extra innings this season.
They were 10-5 in extra innings last season, including 5-1 in Dodger Stadium. That magic, especially at home, has been elusive in 2014. So far this season, they are 1-4 in extras at home.
"We haven't been very good in them so far," manager Don Mattingly acknowledged.
Mattingly appears unconcerned, mostly because of the small sample size and the fact that it's still early. A team must win extra-inning games with pitching, he said, and short term, things have not fallen into place for the Dodgers. Long term, Mattingly said, winning in extra innings can set a precedent that can carry a team a long way.
"In my mind, I think we have enough guys who want to win that we're not willing to take the hit [such as] moving the runner over," Mattingly said of key situations. "It's not a bad thing."
Translated: Many hitters in the Dodgers' collection of marquee names attempt to take the game into their own hands. The result is, this has not been a team that takes what the pitcher gives it, and maybe pieces a late, game-winning rally together on three singles.
"We've got a lot of guys who have been the guy on their club in the past," Mattingly said. "There's really no one the guy here. We have a lot of good players.
"We need a guy to get a guy over, or a guy to get on base to start a rally. Those kinds of things."
Crawford gets day of rest in outfield shuffle
LOS ANGELES -- It was notable on Friday when Carl Crawford was dropped to sixth in the batting order as second baseman Dee Gordon more and more shows he can be an igniter in the leadoff spot. Then, on Saturday, Crawford was dropped out of the lineup completely.
The premise of the strategy was straight forward enough. It was just a day of rest for the 32-year-old outfielder.
But with Crawford hitting just .209/.229/.299, that doesn't make it any easier for him.
"I'm just, you know, maintaining," Crawford said. "At least, I'm trying to."
Crawford said he simply checks the lineup upon his arrival to the clubhouse each day. He doesn't have special huddles with the manager to find out what's going on.
"You know, it's a situation where you've just got to take everything in stride and stay positive," he said. "I just come to the field prepared as if I'm going to play. And you pay attention during the game -- you know when you might be coming in.
"I'm trying my best to make the adjustment, to be successful in any situation."
Crawford entered Saturday's 6-3 victory in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter. He walked and scored on Yasiel Puig's RBI double.
Scott Miller is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.