Early Work Didn't Pay Off For Kemp

VERO BEACH, Fla.- Matt Kemp was so determined to display his abilities to the Dodgers this spring that he showed up a week early. However, with a few days remaining before the team departs for the West Coast, it would appear that he could have spent his time at the beach instead.

Two of the starting outfield jobs had been awarded to newcomers Luis Gonzalez and Juan Pierre long before spring training arrived but they were possibly willing to let Kemp take right field away from Andre Ethier. That is, if he wowed them with an excellent showing. That, alas, he didn't do.

Unlike last spring when he seemed to put on an eye-catching display each time he made his way into the lineup, this time around Kemp hasn't hit at all. Ethier, on the other hand, has, so the next move for Matt would seem to be to join the Las Vegas squad.

He's still on the roster but that will probably change shortly. Even if Jason Repko's latest injury (a pulled hamstring) puts him on the disabled list, Kemp isn't likely to be kept around.

Instead, they will probably put Larry Bigbie on the roster because they have to promote him from his current non-roster status or likely lose him to another club. And Bigbie, unlike Kemp, has done well.

It's not that they're crossing Matt off the list for good. No, his potential is such that he's still high on the list. That's for the future, though, so they want him playing every day. Thus, he'll be sent down where he can do that.

Currently, there's a veteran group trying for outfield slots at Vegas. That includes two others already sent down from the big club- D.Y. Young, who drove in 95 runs with the 51's last year, and Choo Freeman, who was with Colorado all last year where he hit .237.

A familiar face from the past has joined that group for Luke Allen signed recently as a free agent. Luke, you may recall, played five games for the Dodgers in 2002, then was traded to the Rockies for Jason Romano in 2003.

He was to get into only two games for them before going back to the minors. Last year, he spent half the season with Pawtucket, a Red Sox farm, and half with Portland, a Padres affiliate, where he hit .305.

There's still another vet presently in the Las Vegas mix, Wilkin Ruan, who came back to the Dodgers last year, spending most of the season at Jacksonville where he hit .260.

It's likely that any day now Kemp will be added to the 51's roster. Then, he'll have to regroup and hope to play his way back up just as he did in 2006.

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