When the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Matt Kemp last offseason in a five-player trade with the Atlanta Braves, his stay with the organization was expected to be short-lived. But Kemp wound up reporting to Spring Training with the Dodgers and went on to make their Opening Day roster.
Kemp produced at an MVP level for the team in the second half en route to being named to his first All-Star Game since 2012. Now, however, Kemp finds himself filling another role. He’s one of the several players who was platooned down the stretch of the year and into the postseason.
“It’s a little bit different,” Kemp said of the current phase of his career. “You know, I’m not playing every single game, but it’s just good to be back here, be in a situation where I’ve got a chance to do some big things and just be back in the playoffs again. It’s fun, even just watching, to be ready to try to make an impact in any situation that I can.”
Kemp previously put an emphasis on those in a platoon needing to make sacrifices for the betterment of the team as they look to win their first World Series in 30 years. He’s also aware there isn’t much of an option.
“Honestly, we have no choice but to buy into it,” Kemp said with a laugh. “It’s been working. Like you said, we got guys on the bench that could go somewhere and play every single day and make an impact. But we’re trying to win a championship, and every guy is on the same page, and our own common goal is to win a championship. And everybody is staying ready.”
To better understand how to succeed in his new role, Kemp sought out advice from Chase Utley. The veteran second baseman has seen his playing time diminish, but not his impact on the clubhouse despite being left off the Dodgers’ NLDS roster.
“Chase was one of the guys that I went to, you know, because he’s been in a similar situation,” Kemp said. “But you got so many guys on the bench that can make a big impact. Guys are staying ready and staying hot just in case something happens because you never know when you’re going to come in the game.”
Kemp didn’t make his postseason debut until Game 3 of the National League Division Series. He went 1-for-3 with a double, and also made a pinch-hit appearance in Game 4.
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