Kemp looks for pos­i­tives

Los Angeles Times - - Sports - Dylan Her­nan­dez re­port­ing from den­ver

The Dodgers cel­e­brated a sweep of the Rock­ies, above, af­ter a grand slam by Matt Kemp.


With his long and strike­out-filled sea­son com­ing to a close, Matt Kemp started mak­ing bold pre­dic­tions about next sea­son.

First, he said James Loney will hit 20 home runs.

When he was asked how many home runs he will hit, Kemp replied, “40.” How many steals? “Forty,” he said. Forty-forty? “I have to pay the fans back, man,” Kemp said. “They de­serve it.”

Laugh­ing, he added, “They’ve been mad at me all sea­son. I have to do some­thing for them, some­thing spe­cial. We all do. Give them a lit­tle taste right now.”

Kemp home­red Wed­nes­day for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive day, his third-in­ning grand slam lift­ing the Dodgers to a 7-6, sweep-seal­ing vic­tory over the Colorado Rock­ies at Coors Field.

The home run was the 25th for Kemp, who is hit­ting .248, down from .297 last year.

“I’m try­ing to take some­thing pos­i­tive into the off-sea­son and go from there,” Kemp said. “Give them a lit­tle pre­view of what’s to come next year.”

Kemp, who has shat­tered his sin­gle-sea­son fran­chise record by strik­ing out 168 times, said he didn’t plan to rest much this win­ter. He took off only two weeks af­ter the end of last sea­son.

“I’ll chill for a lit­tle bit, then get back to work­ing out, man,” Kemp said. “Can’t sit down for too long.”

With the sea­son draw­ing to a close, the sound of laugh­ter has re­turned to the Dodgers club­house, which was silent not so long ago. Among those who have no­tice­ably light­ened up is Kemp, who had some moody spells late in the sea­son.

“You don’t hit that grand slam if I don’t walk,” Loney said as he walked by Kemp’s locker. Kemp laughed. “He’s all happy be­cause he’s in the 10-10 club now — 10 home runs, 10 stolen bases,” Kemp said.

Loney has ex­actly 10 home runs and 10 steals.

“Man, 10-10,” Kemp said. “But he’s got like 90 RBIs. That doesn’t even make sense, man.”

Loney has driven in a team-high 87 runs.

“Next year, he’ll hit about 20 home runs,” Kemp said, look­ing over at Loney’s locker.

End-of-the-sea­son scram­ble

In less than 24 hours, Clay­ton Ker­shaw went from be­ing sched­uled to make an­other start to be­ing scratched to mak­ing an­other start to be­ing scratched again.

In the end, Man­ager Joe Torre de­cided Ker­shaw would be shut down for the sea­son and that John Ely will start Fri­day at Dodger Sta­dium against the Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs. “It is what it is,” Ker­shaw said. Ini­tially sched­uled to pitch the fi­nal game in Den­ver on Wed­nes­day, Ker­shaw was told he would be scratched be­cause the Rock­ies were elim­i­nated from play­off con­tention, ren­der­ing the con­test mean­ing­less. Car­los Monas­te­rios took his place.

But on Wed­nes­day morn­ing, Hiroki Kuroda told Torre that he pre­ferred to stay with the Dodgers’ orig­i­nal plan of hav­ing him make his last start of the sea­son at Coors Field, which he did Tues­day night. Torre had of­fered Kuroda the op­por­tu­nity to pitch the sea­son fi­nale Sun­day be­cause he is only 32⁄ in­nings

3 short of 200.

“I had been told at the start of Septem­ber that my last start would be in Colorado, so I men­tally shut down af­ter that,” Kuroda said.

With Kuroda out, Ker­shaw was asked to pitch Fri­day. Chad Billings­ley and Ted Lilly, orig­i­nally sched­uled to pitch Fri­day and Satur­day, re­spec­tively, were each pushed back a day.

Torre said he made those plans think­ing he would have to use Ely out of the bullpen Wed­nes­day. But when that didn’t hap­pen, Torre moved him into the Fri­day slot and told Ker­shaw he was done for the sea­son.

“The only part that’s hard is the mental part of it,” Ker­shaw said.

Kuroda was prob­a­bly re­lieved, as he was sur­prised to learn that his de­ci­sion not to pitch Sun­day could have po­ten­tially put the 22year-old Ker­shaw at risk.

Ker­shaw fin­ished the sea­son with 2041⁄in­nings. He was 13-10

3 with a 2.91 earned-run av­er­age.


Rob Ham­mer US Presswire

Rob Ham­mer

BIG PLANS: Matt Kemp, round­ing the bases af­ter hit­ting a grand slam at Colorado, is aim­ing for a more pro­duc­tive 2011.

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