Matt Kemp had previously filled the role of a former Los Angeles Dodgers player returning to Dodger Stadium for the first time, so much of the attention Monday went to Yasiel Puig. Along with Kyle Farmer and Alex Wood, Kemp and Puig were traded to the Cincinnati Reds last December.
While both made significant contributions and were key factors to the Dodgers reaching the World Series for a second consecutive year, the club was motivated to shed salary in effort to get below the luxury tax threshold.
Although Puig was conspicuously absent and more than an hour late to a scheduled press conference, Farmer, Kemp and Wood received their 2018 National League Championship Series rings. They were presented to them by Dodgers owner Mark Walter, president and CEO Stan Kasten, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Dave Roberts.
As for matters on the field, Kemp was cheered for during lineup introductions and when stepping into the batter’s box for his first at-bat. Having previously been critical of the Dodgers fan base, he spoke highly of them after the Reds’ loss, via Beth Harris of the Associated Press:
“These Dodgers fans are special,” Kemp said. “Yasiel and I have been here a long time and we know a lot of people out here. They showed mad love. Yeah, it was special, especially being here on Jackie Robinson Day.”
Although Kemp drew a warm reception, he was in position to play spoiler. Kemp hit a go-ahead RBI single off Kenley Jansen to give the Reds a lead that was eventually wiped away when Joc Pederson hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Once on the receiving end of hearty boos from the Dodger Stadium faithful, Kemp has seemingly put himself back in their good graces as he finishes out his career with generally fond memories with the Dodgers to lean back on.