LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Matt Kemp has been the talk of Braves spring training, first for his noticeably slimmer physique upon reporting early to camp last week, and since then for the power-hitting displays he’s put on in batting practice.
Kemp hit some moon shots off and over the towering center-field wall in batting practice Sunday. And an hour after the Braves workout ended, he was alone on the field with a team conditioning coach, doing agility drills in right field.
Here’s what Braves newcomer R.A. Dickey, a 42-year-old knuckleballer and former Cy Young Award winner, said last week when asked about Kemp, 32, who was traded from the Padres to the Braves at the end of July and hit .280 with 12 home runs, 39 RBIs and a robust .519 slugging percentage in 56 games for the Braves.
“He’s a superstar,” Dickey said. “There’s a few guys you can say that about around the league, consistently, and for me he was always one of those. It’s hard to maintain that, sometimes you leave it behind for a moment and then you circle back around for a moment and there it is. And I think for him, especially when he came over here from San Diego, you saw flashes of what he once was. I think everybody enjoyed it; I know he enjoyed it. So there’s no reason to think that you can’t return to that.”