The Braves reactivated outfielder Matt Kemp from the disabled list Saturday before hosting the Reds, as expected. Kemp started in left field and hit fourth in the lineup.
Kemp had been on the DL since July 29 because of an injured right hamstring, missing the past 19 games. Hamstring issues have caused Kemp to miss 28 games this year on the DL.
He and the team determined Friday that Kemp was ready to be activated.
“We decided I was going to play (Saturday),” Kemp said. “We just had a schedule, and we stuck with it. Everything worked out. We didn’t have any setbacks.”
He traveled with the team on its road trip last week so physical therapists could work with him. A two-game rehab in the minors was scratched after Braves manager Brian Snitker and the trainers saw Kemp moving well in St. Louis.
“We did all the tests, passed them,” Kemp said. “I’m just ready to go now. Ready to get back on the field. Excited.
“Hamstrings are tricky. Sometimes when you think you’re ready, you’re not. I gave it a little bit of extra time. So hopefully that extra time will pass all the hamstring injuries and I can play the rest of the season.”
Snitker said, regarding rehab assignments, veterans often don’t find them as helpful as younger players. He felt Kemp was ready without needing any extra games.
“He’s obviously a big part of our lineup,” Snitker said. “He extends your lineup and that presence is something really nobody else in there can do. Because he’s a threat, always. … A guy like that, it’s a hole when you don’t have him in there.”
Hamstring injuries have nagged Kemp throughout his career, and 2017 hasn’t been different. In Kemp’s first 34 games, he hit .340 with eight homers and 27 RBIs. He had 41 hits in May, the most by a Braves player since Ralph Garr’s 47 in 1974.
But Kemp cooled off since. He’s hit .227 with a .285 OBP over his past 46 games since June 3. Kemp also leads the majors in double plays grounded into with 22.
The Braves were scheduled to face Reds right-handed starter Robert Stephenson on Saturday. Kemp is hitting .306 (86-for-281), with 12 of his 14 home runs against righties.
“I like being out there on the field,” Kemp said. “When the team’s struggling and I’m not out there on the field, I feel like I’m, you know, I need to be back out there. So it’s good to be back and hopefully we can get some things going.”
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