Kemp impressive in return to lineup

Kemp impressive in return to lineup

PHILADELPHIA -- Matt Kemp was back in the Dodgers' lineup Thursday night after two days on the bench, and it was an impressive return.

Kemp homered, singled twice, and drove in four runs in the Dodgers' 10-9 loss to the Phillies.

"Kemp was better," said manager Joe Torre. "He had good at-bats."

Kemp also was the subject of another rumor on Thursday, this time a radio report that said he wants to be traded, a report he denied.

"Where do they get this stuff?" asked Kemp, who did not start on Tuesday and Wednesday after striking out four times on Sunday. "It's like the tabloids. It's not true."

Though Kemp hasn't mentioned a trade, his agent has. Dave Stewart, the former Dodger, told the Los Angeles Times that the Dodgers could fill holes by trading Kemp. He went further by complaining that criticism of Kemp by coaches Bob Schaefer and Larry Bowa has made playing difficult for his client.

General manager Ned Colletti reiterated earlier comments that he does not intend to trade Kemp.

Torre had originally planned to have Kemp sit only on Tuesday, but after Jay Gibbons went 3-for-4 with a homer in Kemp's place, Torre started Gibbons again on Wednesday; he went 0-for-4.

"He's frustrated, I'll tell you that," said Torre, who met with Kemp on Sunday. "He kept saying, 'I'm trying.' I know. It's not that easy. A number of young players in the past have had success, and maybe they start thinking, 'This isn't that tough.' I'm not saying he doesn't put in the time. He does. But it's the mental part of handling failures."

Torre cited Mark Whiten, a player of comparable talent and who also reached the Major Leagues quickly. Kemp was initially a basketball star who turned to baseball in high school and reached the Major Leagues without a full season at either Double-A or Triple-A.

"Mark Whiten hadn't played a lot of baseball, and they have some similarities in the crudeness of it, meaning you just haven't played or polished what you do," said Torre. "There's really no substitute for experience. You can have people talk to you, but until you experience the stuff, you can't really get a grip on it."