Notes: Kemp earning his keep for LA

Dodgers notes: Kemp earning his keep

SAN DIEGO -- Matt Kemp was in the starting lineup Thursday, and manager Grady Little said he expects that to continue.

"It's hard for me to write a lineup without his name in there," said Little, who did it the night before, only for Kemp to slug a game-tying pinch-homer.

Kemp was promoted from Double-A on May 28. In the club's 16 games since (prior to Thursday's action), he started 10. Nonetheless, his seven home runs in June lead the Major Leagues. He has a hit in each of his 10 starts.

According to David Vincent, SABR's home-run historian, Kemp is one of five Major Leaguers to hit seven homers in his first 18 days in the Major Leagues, the most recent being Alvin Davis of Seattle in 1984.

Navarro squeezed out: Catcher Dioner Navarro is still on an injury rehab assignment, but when that ends in the next few days, he is expected to remain in Triple-A via option, having lost the Major League starting catching job to rookie Russell Martin.

Little said he doesn't have a rule about whether an injured starter automatically gets his job back, something that will be further proved next week when Gold Glove shortstop Cesar Izturis returns to the club as a utilityman.

"It all applies to individual circumstances," said Little. "At the Major League level, the majority of time, you put the best team on the field. I don't think you can say [Navarro's] fallen. Give credit where credit is due to Russell. I don't feel the organization will benefit by having both on the team. We think highly of both of them, just a little more one than the other at this time."

Little said the situation is almost identical to what existed in Spring Training, only the roles have reversed from when Navarro broke camp as the Dodgers starter and Martin opened the season catching in Las Vegas.

"Right now, Russell is doing such a good job, it's hard to displace him at this time for the majority of catching," he said.

Little said Navarro was throwing and catching well on his rehab assignment, although he's only 1-for-17 at the plate.

Aybar rebounds: Speaking of being sent to the Minor Leagues, that's what happened to Willy Aybar at the end of a poor Spring Training, when he needed to demonstrate to a new management team that his .326 batting average during last September's call-up was no fluke.

Instead, Aybar hit .216 in exhibition games. With extra infielders like Ramon Martinez and Oscar Robles, Aybar had little chance to make the club. But he didn't sulk when he returned to the Minor Leagues, and was leading the Pacific Coast League with a .358 average to earn a promotion May 10. Aybar has taken over the third-base job made available by the prolonged absence of Bill Mueller.

"I knew I wasn't hitting good in Spring Training," said Aybar. "I went back to Triple-A and worked hard so I could come back and be ready when I come back."

Aybar ranks third among rookies with a .302 average and eighth with 20 RBIs.

Injury update: Reliever Jae Seo, who left Tuesday night's game with shoulder soreness, was reported to be available for action Thursday.

Fernando online: Former Dodgers Cy Young Award-winning pitcher and current Spanish-language broadcaster Fernando Valenzuela will conduct a Web chat on and Tuesday at 2 p.m PT.

In memorium: Bob Schenz, longtime director of the Stadium Club and Transportation for the Dodgers, passed away on Monday. Schenz worked for the club from 1961 to 1988.

In the community: The club will host the graduation of Solano Avenue Elementary School in the Stadium Club on Friday. The Dodgers have a 26-year Adopt-A-School relationship with the school.

Coming up: Brett Tomko (5-5, 5.20), pitching on an extra day's rest, opens an Interleague series in Oakland against Barry Zito (7-3, 3.53) on Friday at 7:05 p.m. PT.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.