Kemp hopes to return to lineup Tuesday

Kemp hopes to return to lineup Tuesday

PITTSBURGH -- Matt Kemp took another step toward returning to the Braves' lineup, taking batting practice and completing some agility drills before Sunday's game at PNC Park.

The Braves remain hopeful Kemp will be ready to return the lineup for Tuesday's series opener against the Marlins in Miami. The veteran outfielder has missed two starts since exiting Friday's game in Pittsburgh with a tight right hamstring.

Kemp got through batting practice and the agility drills without any apparent problem, and was available to pinch-hit in Sunday's game. But with the benefit of Monday's scheduled off-day, the Braves are taking a cautious approach that would give the veteran outfielder at least three days of rest before returning to regular full-time action.

"We just don't want to take any chances," Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

Kemp has started this season in encouraging fashion, collecting eight hits, including four doubles and two homers, through his first 16 at-bats. Per Statcast™, the second home run he hit in Thursday's loss to the Mets had an exit velocity of 111.9 mph, which trumped the exit velo of any of the 35 home runs he hit last year.

Kemp crushes two solo homers

After getting just a few hours of sleep and subjecting himself to the frigid conditions that existed after the Pirates' home opener started -- the game-time temperature was 37 degrees -- Kemp exited immediately after recording a single in the sixth inning. His hamstring had become more uncomfortable during the previous half-inning, when he made a diving catch near the left-field line.

Kemp was on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring from May 15-29, 2012. When he aggravated the hamstring during his second game back, he went back on the disabled list until July 13, 2012.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.