Dodgers Glad Kemp Made the Right Decision

In an interview by Matt Patterson of The Oklahoma City Oklahoman said Jeff Kent he didn't know if he wanted to play baseball during his first year in rookie ball. He felt he was really a basketball player and thought he had somehow made the wrong decision when he signed with the Dodgers in the sixth round of the 2003 draft.

With the Dodger in 2007 Kemp hit .342, the fourth-highest batting average in Los Angeles history although he only played inn 98 games and had 292 times at bat. "I didn't know if I made the right decision [signing to play baseball], but I stuck with it and it's something I really grew to love and I'll never regret," he told Patterson.

He turned 23 in September and in his fifth professional season hammered the ball to consistently he was the main object of trade talks throughout the off-season.

For example: Kemp hit .390 against lefthanded pitching. .333 with runners in scoring position, .333 in Dodger Stadium [and nine of his 10 home runs], .333 on the road, .400 in day games and .427 in Dodger victories.

He started the season with a bang, hitting .429 in March and April before suffering a slightly separated shoulder when he crashed into the right field scoreboard chasing a fly ball. Returning from the disabled list and 39 games in Las Vegas where he hit .339, he .336 in May and June, slipped a bit in July (.255), picked up to .311 (August) and then finished with a roar, posting a .382 average in September.

He talked about his short career in the interview with Patterson and touched on a number of incidents, including:

About the clubhouse squabble with Jeff Kent: "Things happen. You could be in the wrong places at the wrong time. It was an unfortunate situation. Nothing happened. You learn you have to be careful. Somebody could take all your accomplishments away from you by saying something that's not true. You have to be careful. It's a dangerous world.

"Jeff [Kent] had said some things. Everyone was frustrated. We were losing and we weren't going to the playoffs. It was a team thing. It's unfortunate the papers got hold of some stuff and blew a little thing out of proportion. That's what papers do sometimes, but we settled it."

About life in Los Angeles: "You have to stay focused and not get away from what it is you need to do to get where you need to be. Being in the big leagues there's a lot of distractions. The night life in LA is crazy. Don't get too comfortable because people are out to get you, especially if they see you doing good things. They want to ruin that so you can be on the same level as them.:

About being involved in trade rumors: "The trade stuff is a little crazier this year. You hear a lot of teams going after me. There's no other place I'd rather be than LA. I don't want to leave there. I'd be disappointed if I got traded. It's hard to have that hanging over your head because you think about it all the time. You can get that call, a random number and that could be it. I don't know who calls you, I've never been traded. But I'm always looking at my phone when it rings and sometimes I'm kind of nervous."

On his fellow Oklahoma native Junior Spivey: "Junior is the one who took my game to the next level. He brought me out to Arizona and we worked out. He's one of the hardest working guys I've ever associated with. I've learned a lot from him."

About the steroid flap: "I think he [Barry Bonds] did what he did. You know, it's hard. Nobody knows if he did steroids. They haven't proved it. He's one of the best players ever to play the game. You still have to put the bat on the ball. The things that he did, nobody knows but even if he did you still have to play every day.

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