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Braves’ Matt Kemp’s latest hamstring injury could mean long DL stint

The last time Braves left fielder Matt Kemp went on the 10-day disabled list because of a right hamstring injury he played just one rehabilitation game and returned to the lineup as soon as he was eligible. The next time Kemp had hamstring issues he missed one game, started the next five, and then missed two more games before trying to manage the injury while playing.

Kemp’s latest hamstring injury could mean an extended time out of the lineup. The Braves placed Kemp on the 10-day DL on Saturday with what the team said is a right hamstring strain, the day after the injury forced him to leave a game against the Phillies.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said Kemp’s April DL stint mostly was for precautionary reasons, but that Kemp “jerked it worse” during Friday’s game. Kemp had multiple DL stints because of injuries to both hamstrings while playing for the Dodgers during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

“He’s had a history of it even when he was younger,” Snitker said. “It’s one of those things when they are out there running around on hard ground with cleats. It’s probably better now to wait. It’s going to take a while for it to get back well.”

Kemp, 32, suffered the injury while trying to turn a hit off the wall into a double. After the game he said the hamstring clinched as he rounded first base.

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Kemp appeared briefly in the clubhouse Saturday when it was open to reporters, but did not comment when approached.

Sean Rodriguez was in the lineup at left field for Saturday’s game. Rodriguez (who bats right) and Danny Santana (switch hitter) figure to get most of the starts in left with Kemp out, with Lane Adams also available.

“We are covered,” Snitker said. “You obviously hate to lose your clean-up hitter, but we have guys that can fill in.”

The Braves placed Kemp on the 10-day disabled list in April because of a right hamstring strain. Kemp sat out a game June 16 because of soreness in his left hamstring, pinch hit during a game June 17 and then started the next five before sitting out two more games. In 33 games since June 17 Kemp hit .221 with a .286 on-base percentage and .328 slugging percentage.

The Braves acquired Kemp in a trade with the Padres for Hector Olivera on July 30, 2016. Kemp will earn $21.75 million this season and each of the next two, with the Dodgers and Padres paying a combined $6 million of those annual salaries. The Braves are paying Kemp $8.5 million more annually than they owed Olivera, whom the team dumped after he played just 30 games for them.

Kemp enjoyed a resurgence in production after joining the Braves. He hit .280 with a .336 on-base percentage and .519 slugging percentage over 56 games with the Braves in 2016. Kemp is hitting .290 with a .336 OBP and .477 SLG this season and, before sitting out the June 16 game, his slash line was .327/.364/.558 over 55 games.

After Friday’s game Kemp said he was “frustrated” by the latest injury. When he had the left hamstring injury last month he said it’s a “tricky” ailment, but that he hoped to find a way to let it heal while continuing to play.

“It’s got to work on you,” Snitker said. “You want to go out there and play every day at a high level and something like that happens, it’s frustrating. He wants to play. You just have to be patient and let it heal so it hopefully it doesn’t continue to bug him.”

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