Dodgers waiting to see Kemp return to form

Mattingly said center fielder continues to work on shoring up his defense

Dodgers waiting to see Kemp return to form

PHILADELPHIA -- One day after a 5-3 loss to the New York Mets at Citi Field, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly's comments about Matt Kemp following that defeat proved to be a prologue to action.

"We continue to look at it and give Matt the opportunity to keep working and get better," Mattingly said on Thursday. "He doesn't look the same. The burst, the outrun-the-ball thing. We've talked to Matt and don't hear anything medically that he's not feeling good. We just want to see the same burst. We don't know if it's a matter of him being out a few years. He's trying, been working, and we'll continue to go from there."

On Friday, Kemp wasn't in the lineup as Andre Ethier was the starting center fielder against the Phillies. Ethier, who last appeared on Monday as a defensive replacement, entered the series opener hitting .262 with two home runs and 21 RBIs. Kemp, who went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts on Thursday, is hitting .265 with five home runs and 13 RBIs, and has hit .344 (22-for-64) since May 3 which raised his average 60 points. But the bigger concern is his defense, which reared its head against the Mets.

"We haven't sat down and said anything about what we are going to do," Mattingly said on Friday. "We keep having talks and discussions about how we are going to go about things.

"Matt is a part of our team. I think we try to put our best team out there and that's what we will continue to do."

Offensively, the Dodgers' outfield has been productive. As a unit, Carl Crawford, Ethier, Yasiel Puig, Scott Van Slyke and Kemp are hitting .337 (95-for-282) in May with 13 home runs and 45 RBIs in 21 games. That said, it's defensively that Kemp just isn't the same player he was as recently as two years ago and Mattingly is working his way around the issue.

"We feel comfortable with what we want to do," Mattingly said. "We continue to discuss our options."

Mattingly admitted to looking at defensive ratings and several other statistical guidelines, which according to Fangraphs has Kemp -7.1 defensively (fielding and positional adjustment combined above average) and a 0.1 WAR (wins above replacement).

"When you see a game from this bench you don't get to see everything," Mattingly said. "We're going to go back and look at video. Look at all of the angles. You always continue to evaluate the plays that we make or don't make and look for reasons why. The metrics allow us to take all the information, and also you want to take in the game and see what happens.

"Obviously center field is a position we continue to look at and we have to get better out there."

Michael Radano is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.