LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly wants to see Matt Kemp in the outfield, but he doesn't want to rush the center fielder back from a sprained left ankle before Kemp is ready.
"I want to get him back in the mix, but I want him to be sharp when he comes," Mattingly said. "I want to give him the best chance to have success."
Mattingly hopes Kemp, on the disabled list for the third time this season, could begin a rehab assignment before Minor League seasons end the first week of September. But if Kemp is not ready by then, Mattingly said Kemp could get at-bats in the Arizona instructional league.
"I want him to be ready to play," Mattingly said. "So hopefully he gets a few Minor League games coming."
Kemp took early batting practice on the field Sunday afternoon, ran and made turns in the outfield at Dodger Stadium.
"It sounds like he had a good day today," Mattingly said. "He ran really well today."
Kemp said he doesn't feel any pain in his ankle. He still needs to run the bases, which could happen in the next couple of days if all goes well, and that is one of the final hurdles before a rehab assignment.
"I've still got some work to do," Kemp said. "I'm just getting my legs stronger. I haven't gotten to run a lot. So I'm just getting stronger."
Kemp has missed 68 games this season and played 62.
"I wish I could be out there with those guys, but I'm working hard to get back so I can enjoy some of the things that are going on on the field," he said.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.