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Kemp's confidence high as recovery continues

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Kemp's effortless power swing is back. He increased his baseball activity on Friday's first full-squad workout, taking ground balls off the bat of first-base coach Davey Lopes and moving around like a healthy ballplayer. Then he matched every one of Yasiel Puig's moonshots with the swing that's been missing during two seasons of shoulder problems. Those seem to be over, based on the unrestricted follow-through of every swing.

Kemp still isn't running outdoors on his surgically repaired knee and either doesn't know, or won't say, when that day will come. But he did make clear how he felt about being a backup to Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier or Puig.

"I'm not a fourth outfielder. Cut that off right now," he said. "I'm not going to be a fourth outfielder. I'm here to help my team win and play every day. When the time comes to come back, I'll come back and be the same player I was when I was healthy. All of us feel the same way. We want to play every day. I won't accept that role. I can't accept that role."

Kemp said the club will have a decision to make when all four outfielders are healthy, but he won't worry about it because he can't control it.

He said he wouldn't speculate on whether he's back to 60 or 70 percent because he hasn't tested the ankle, which needed tricky microfracture repair work on the critical talus bone. He has become friendly with the Alter-G pressurized gravity treadmill, which allows the user to simulate running while removing the effects of body weight.

"I'm still the player I've always been," he said. "I've just been hurt. It's hard to be the player you are when you're hurt. I never lost confidence."

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

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