Kemp confident he'll be everyday center fielder again

Dodgers outfielder admits he hasn't played well, but determined to return to form

Kemp confident he'll be everyday center fielder again

ST. LOUIS -- Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp has a strong desire to be a center fielder, and he is certain that will one day again be the case.

Kemp on Friday substantiated comments his agent Dave Stewart made in recent days to FOX Sports, which claimed that Kemp's desire is to return to center field and play every day. He added that Kemp was "favorable" to whatever the Dodgers might want to do.

"I'm going to play center field again," Kemp said as the Dodgers began the season's second half Friday. "I'm going to play center field every day."

Kemp opened the season as the Dodgers' center fielder, but after he misplayed multiple balls in May, manager Don Mattingly said Kemp didn't have the same "burst" and moved the two-time Gold Glover to left field, where he has been since. Of Kemp's 77 starts this season, 43 have come as the team's left fielder.

Kemp has made five errors, with four coming in center before to his transition. Before being moved to left May 28, the 29-year-old outfielder hadn't played there since 2006.

Whether Kemp will again be a center fielder in Los Angeles remains uncertain. Mattingly, when told Friday of Kemp's belief that he remains a center fielder, was unmoved.

"That's fine," Mattingly said. "He can view himself however he wants. I'm playing him in left."

Kemp, who was hitting .269 entering Friday, said his position change has not affected his performance at the plate. He insists that he has no control over where he plays in the field or if he continues to play with the Dodgers as the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches on July 31.

"I want to play every day," Kemp said. "If it's with the Dodgers, if it's with someone else. It's not my decision, I don't make that decision. Right now I'm with the Dodgers, so I'm going to help them win. That's my team. If I get traded or if I don't, I don't have control over anything, so it's not like I can be like, 'I don't want to go here.' I don't have a no-trade clause, I don't have any of that. I'm a Dodger."

Kemp has a defensive runs saved total of -20 this season, with -12 coming as a center fielder, compared to -5 during his 2011 Gold Glove season.

"I haven't played defense as good as I've wanted to; of course not," Kemp said. "I just need to get better. I've made a lot of errors this year, stupid errors that I probably could have cut down on and maybe flagged some balls out there I probably could have flagged. It's going to come back."

For now, the Dodgers are comfortable with Andre Ethier in center field, keeping Kemp on the left corner.

"For me, I feel like being out there and playing is what's best for the team. If that makes me selfish, then I don't even know," Kemp said. "I've never been a selfish person, I'm all about my team. I love my teammates, I love playing baseball and I want to play every day. If that's a crime, then whew."

Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.