SAN DIEGO -- While cautioning not to overreact to Matt Kemp's four strikeouts Saturday night in the first game of his rehab assignment with Triple-A Albuquerque, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly also said Sunday that Kemp will be eased back into action upon his return.
Kemp went 0-for-5 as designated hitter, but also stole a base and scored from second on a single. He was scheduled to play the outfield Sunday, and Mattingly said Kemp would play at least one more game for the Isotopes, but his stint there could be extended if necessary.
"Is his timing back to game speed? It doesn't sound like it," said Mattingly. "But if it takes two, three, four games, or if it has to be five or six, just so when he comes back, he feels like he can be competitive."
Mattingly said Kemp would abandon a new set of contact lenses that bothered him in the game after using them successfully during an impressive batting practice session Thursday in San Diego. Mattingly said the carry and loft of Kemp's blasts Thursday were the best Kemp had shown in a while.
Mattingly said the reports were that Kemp ran well and willingly Saturday night, not favoring the right hamstring that has sidelined him for three weeks.
"The rehab is to make sure the leg is good and he doesn't come back, hit the ball and reinjure it," he said. "When Hanley [Ramirez] was out an extended time and first came back, he was physically cleared, but mentally, there is a lag to do things, not knowing if you'll bounce back. Eventually, you get to where you just play. Now he goes first to third, tries to steal a bag. We're still paying attention to him, like getting him out of the game yesterday for a couple innings was huge.
"We had to be careful, a day on and a day off. That was the plan to get him over the hump, and with Matt, I'm sure it will be the same type of thing. But I'm sure as his leg is feeling good, I expect Matt to be a little cautious, but it's not like he's not going to run at all. He'll be Matt."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.