Kemp looks for positives
The Dodgers celebrated a sweep of the Rockies, above, after a grand slam by Matt Kemp.
DODGERS 7 COLORADO 6
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.
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.
BIG PLANS: Matt Kemp, rounding the bases after hitting a grand slam at Colorado, is aiming for a more productive 2011.