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Kemp faces live pitching, eyes Sunday return

Kemp faces live pitching, eyes Sunday return

WASHINGTON -- Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp hit against live pitching before Friday's game against the Nationals, and said he feels ready to return on Sunday, the first day he is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list.

Kemp, who is out with an irritated AC joint in his left shoulder, does not believe he will need to go on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment. He last played on July 5, when he suffered the injury taking a swing.

"He's probably had enough of [rehab assignments]," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "There's a lot of guys who think they don't necessarily need them. Nobody wants them."

Kemp already missed 24 games earlier this season with a strained right hamstring. If he is activated Sunday, he will have sat out another 11.

Kemp took swings against left-hander Ted Lilly in a simulated game consisting of six or seven at-bats, and said he had no problems. The outfielder will do the same on Saturday. He said it's difficult to tell if he feels like himself until he gets into a real game.

"I don't know. We'll see when I start playing," Kemp said. "It's hard to tell. Practice is totally different from the game. But I feel good."

Kemp has hit .254 with a .666 OPS in 61 games this season, and now is trying to bounce back from an injury for the second time.

"It is what it is. You've got to deal with it," he said. "When you do come back, try to not get hurt. Just dealing with it. It can be frustrating at times, but it is what it is. Injuries are part of the game."

Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @HitTheCutoff. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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