GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Rehabbing outfielder Matt Kemp graduated to controlled game action Sunday, going hitless but painfree in a Minor League game.
Batting second each inning for both teams, Kemp's first ball put in play was an infield grounder and he ran about three-quarter speed to first base and returned to the dugout smiling. On his second groundout, he appeared to have his normal gait.
He was still smiling and upbeat when he finished the seven at-bats that included two strikeouts. His hardest-hit ball was a line-drive out to first base. He seemed rusty at the plate, but physically sound.
"I'm out there running again. I am happy. I'm good," said Kemp. "Oh-for-7, but I've been swinging really good in the other intrasquad [simulated] games. I've gotten more at-bats than the other guys on the big league side. I've got to get stronger with my legs."
Kemp is on the comeback from serious left ankle surgery after being injured on an awkward slide into home in Washington on July 21 after getting a late break from third base on an infield grounder.
It was originally diagnosed as a sprain, and the damage to the talus bone showed on an MRI during his rehab. He will not make the trip to Australia, manager Don Mattingly said, but appears to be within a month of rejoining the Major League club.
Kemp was reluctant to project when he will rejoin his teammates.
"My body will tell me when I'm ready," he said. "Hitting-wise, definitely. Running-wise, not where I need to be. I'll keep running until my body tells me I'm able to compete on the Major League level. I don't feel as strong as I should."
He said he has been making turns the last few days and made one Sunday at half-speed. He said sliding "might be the last thing I do" because "you don't practice that, you can't really go out and simulate" sliding.
His workout was observed by athletic trainer Stan Conte, who indicated that Kemp was now in Stage 6 of a seven-stage rehab.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less