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Kemp confident Dodgers will have good chemistry


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A slimmed down Matt Kemp noticed that people are questioning the Dodgers' chemistry. For example, there was last week's tweet from the Giants' Brandon Belt that you can't buy chemistry -- an obvious reference to the Dodgers' expensive roster makeover.

"Exactly," Kemp said about Belt's tweet. "If I was the World Series champ, I don't have to say anything about somebody else's team. I'm not worried about our chemistry. I keep hearing we don't have any. I can tell our chemistry will be good. We built it at the end of the year, so I don't care what people say or how they feel.

"We have a great team. We have pitching, we have hitting, we have defense. We have it all. There's going to be no excuse if we do lose. If everybody does his job, we'll be successful, and I don't care what anybody says about us. We just got to go out and do our thing and let them say what they want. We all saw those quotes. We'll worry about the Dodgers. I'm sure the Giants will worry about the Giants."

Besides, Kemp said, the entire division poses problems for the Dodgers. Kemp, now 28 and assuming a greater leadership role in the clubhouse, pointed out strengths of each division rival and said the Dodgers will be fine if they focus on what they need to do.

"Chemistry comes from playing with one another," he said. "You don't have to like everybody if everybody has one common goal of winning games. Just stick together and we'll be fine. If you win, chemistry will be there and everybody will like each other."

Kemp, recovering from surgery in October peformed on his left shoulder to repair damage sustained from slamming into the wall at Coors Field, says he is 12 pounds lighter (at 208) than he was a year ago after shedding extra weight he put on while rehabbing over the winter.

"I was about 10 pounds heavier last year than the year before [208] and I thought, if I hit 39 home runs [in 2011], gain 10 pounds and I'd hit 10 more home runs, which wasn't the case," he said.

"Playing center field, you can't be all heavy and run around when you're playing like Mike Trout. Got to be light to do that. I feel I have more power lighter. I hit my most home runs at a lighter weight. I went back to a lighter Matt. I'll definitely steal bases this year."

Kemp went 39/40 in 2011 when he finished second in the National Leage Most Valuable Player Award voting to Ryan Braun. Battling the shoulder and a bad hamstring injury last year, he was 23/9, after suggesting (he now says half-jokingly) that his goal was 50/50.

He said he's making no predictions this year, the only goal being to stay healthy all season.

"Opening Day is all that matters," he said. "Spring Training is to get ready for the season, which I will be, and ready to go.

Kemp reiterated that, despite the injuries, he won't change his physical style of play.

"I can't play like that," he said of being more cautious. "I've got to go. Maybe I'll peek to see if the wall is there, but once you play scared, that's when mistakes happen."

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