SAN FRANCISCO -- When Matt Kemp grabbed his left shoulder in pain Friday night, for a moment this appeared to be a doom and gloom scenario for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In most other conditions, an injury to a player of Kemp's abilities and accomplishments would be a dire situation. But here, there were mitigating circumstances.
Kemp was smiling broadly in the Dodgers' clubhouse after his teammates pounded on the San Francisco Giants, 10-2. The injury was not serious, Kemp said, and he thought he would be out only a matter of days.
With that in mind, at this moment, it is difficult to associate a negative concept with any situation pertaining to the Dodgers. They have an 18-12 record over the last 30 games. They have Yasiel Puig playing at an all-world level, maybe an all-galaxy level. And there was good news on the field Friday night, with a seven-RBI performance from third baseman Juan Uribe and a strong start from Hyun-Jin Ryu.
The downside was Kemp's injury. This wouldn't help Kemp, but there was irony attached to it. The Dodgers' bout of full health among their position players had lasted less than two innings.
The Dodgers entered this weekend at full capacity among position players, as outfielder Carl Crawford returned to the active roster after being on the disabled list with a hamstring strain.
"I guess this is the first time all year that we've had pretty much everybody together," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Obviously, plus Yasiel, where we started off thinking we were going to be."
This pleasant state of affairs lasted almost no time at all. Batting in the second inning, Kemp swung and missed at a pitch from Giants starter Matt Cain. Kemp dropped his bat and grabbed his left shoulder, the same shoulder he had labrum surgery on after last season. Kemp finished this at-bat, drawing a walk, but Crawford pinch-hit for him in the third.
Kemp was diagnosed with irritation in the shoulder, but not in the same area as the surgery. He received a cortisone injection.
"I just felt something weird in my shoulder and it kind of scared me a little bit," Kemp said. "It started to get a little sore so I had to come out of the game.
"This is the first time I felt this. I felt a little pop in my AC joint. Some players have told me that's pretty common after having labrum surgery. Sometimes your AC joint can get a little irritated.
"I got a cortisone shot and it's calmed down a little right now. So hopefully in the next couple of days I'll be ready to go. It's day-to-day. It was very scary. I've never felt anything like that in my shoulder before. I mean I felt like it was worse than when I ran into the wall. I thought I was done but then I kind of moved it around and it felt OK. I tried to take some swings in the cage when we came in from playing defense and it was hurting a lot. I had to pull out of the game."
"Right now I feel good," Kemp said with a smile. "I mean, cortisone is great. Cortisone will make anything feel better. [Saturday] we'll see how it is, and we'll just go from there."
The 10-2 score also seemed to make Kemp feel better: "I pulled my team up," he said with a smile. "I get hurt and then they score all those runs. I did that."
Kemp said he was frustrated by having to leave the game at a point where he believed that he was returning to form at the plate. But his overall outlook emerging from this episode was positive, as was that of the Dodgers.
The Dodgers could find a double dose of glee; their own improved performance over the last month and the recent struggles of their arch rivals. The Giants are 4-15 over their last 19 games, including a recent 1-8 road trip. In those 19 games, the Giants have scored a total of 45 runs.
To say that the NL West is up for grabs probably understates the case. With only one team, the Diamondbacks, currently over .500, the division is just waiting for somebody to take charge. So the Dodgers were in last place for nearly two months? So what? Their future looks brighter now. In fact, their future became brighter as soon as Yasiel Puig was granted a spot in the Los Angeles lineup.
And Friday night, what looked like a very bleak moment for Matt Kemp and the Dodgers turned into Kemp smiling in the clubhouse, while extolling the virtues of cortisone.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less