Kemp coming around at plate for Dodgers

Kemp coming around at plate for Dodgers

SAN DIEGO -- Joe Torre isn't buying the suggestion that Matt Kemp's slump is the result of general manager Ned Colletti's critical comments about the center fielder.

"You think this kid is soft?" Torre asked in response to a question about Kemp, who won Friday night's game with a two-run homer. "If Ned Colletti did something to put him in a slump, then the kid isn't as tough as I think."

Whether Colletti's comments extended a slump is open for conjecture, but Kemp was already in one -- which included his defense and baserunning -- or Colletti wouldn't have made the comments.

The timeline shows that on April 21, Kemp had his last home run and multiple-RBI game until Friday night. He was hitting .333 at the time. Kemp went 6-for-28 (.204) between April 21 and when he learned of Colletti's comments before the April 28 game in New York. Kemp was 2-for-12 his next three games, and is hitting .292 since, although he had only two RBIs in May until Friday night.

Defensively, he was tentative in the outfield before the comments and misplayed a ball that cost Clayton Kershaw two runs, and the Dodgers a loss, on April 29. He was caught stealing on five of his seven attempts before the comments, two of six since.

Friday night, Kemp also singled sharply to center, walked, stole a base and scored two runs.

"He's staying in the middle of the field, staying on the ball a little longer," said Torre. "I thought I saw it earlier, then it disappeared. If you watch from upstairs, it's when his front side stays in there longer.

"He's tried to be the same personality every day [since Colletti's comments]. 'I'm good, I'm good. I don't want to come out of the lineup.' He's just about the first one at the ballpark. He's certainly not licking his wounds."