Jul 2, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp (27) during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Dodgers won 8-0. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kemp Injury Update: Swollen Ankle, Could It Have Been Avoided?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Matt Kemp is hurt again. This time a mental block on the base paths may have cost him dearly. The Dodger’s all-star center fielder returned from the disabled list this morning and proceeded to go 3 for 4 with a home run, run scoring double, and an RBI single in the Dodger’s 9-2 win over the Nationals at Washington D.C. But he injured his ankle on an awkward slide into home plate in the top of the ninth inning. He was unable to return to the field in the bottom of the ninth, and was replaced in the game by Skip Schumaker.

Kemp returned from the disabled list today after missing nine games because of an irritated AC joint in his shoulder. It almost seems like Kemp is like 40 years old now. If you remember, Kemp was never hurt. Ever. Kemp was like an iron man, he never missed a game. Before he blew out his hamstring in May of 2012, he had played in 399 consecutive games.

Did a mental error on the base paths cause Bison’s ankle injury?-Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

But the injury bug has really bitten our lovable Bison. He missed 56 games in 2012 because of a strained hamstring, then of course on August 28, 2012 Bison’s death-defying crash into the Coors Field wall left him with a torn shoulder labrum, that is still affecting his swing to this day. After having off-season surgery on his shoulder, Bison recovered enough to be ready to play by opening day, but we all feared he wouldn’t be the same for a while.

Kemp strained his other hamstring earlier this season, because of course he did. That landed Bison back on the DL for a few weeks. Kemp returned but continued to struggle until hitting two home runs in a series at Colorado earlier this month, and everyone was hoping that that was the beginning of the return of the Bison. Would Beastmode make a comeback?

Once players begin to get hurt, sometimes it can open a floodgate of future injuries. The long layoffs between playing, the cortisone shots, and PRP injections, they all take their toll on the player’s bodies. Kemp is going down a road that none of us want him to be going down.

However in the next series in San Francisco, Kemp hurt his shoulder on a swing that looked very painful. The Dodgers treated him with another cortisone shot, and placed him back on the DL to rest his shoulder. The Dodgers announced that this was normal after having shoulder surgery (according to the medical team) and that Kemp would just need to rest.

So after Bison hit some home runs off of Ted Lilly in a simulated game, the Dodgers proclaimed him back and ready to go. Even though hitting anything off Ted Lilly makes you far from being ready. Despite that, Kemp was activated today and placed in the starting lineup, batting sixth.

Kemp looked great during all of his at-bats today. In the first he showed great plate discipline laying off of a 1-2 inside fastball, before turning on a hanging breaking ball, crushing the ball into the left field seats. He added an RBI double, and a run scoring single, plus a walk.

The questionable play that Kemp hurt himself on was in the top of the ninth inning. Kemp had walked, and eventually advanced to third. On a Carl Crawford bases loaded grounder to first, First baseman Chad Tracy threw to home as Kemp was trying to score. Kemp was jogging originally, the ball was a slow hit grounder and Tracy had no chance to get Crawford at first, so he fired to home to try and cut down Bison at the plate for a force. Kemp was jogging but then tried to pick up the speed when he realized he may get thrown out. Kemp couldn’t decide whether to slide or come in standing up. He tried to slide awkwardly, and rolled his ankle while trying to slide. He was tagged out, and was seen visibly limping in the dugout.

The Dodgers gave him x-rays, which came back negative. The diagnosis was a sprained ankle. The Dodgers also reported his ankle to be swollen, and that he would not be placed on the DL. It looked a lot worse then it was.

But could Kemp have avoided the injury? We’ve seen Kemp struggle at times to keep his head in games. Sometimes Bison can be a little lackadaisical on the field, and on the base paths. Was this one of those times? Was Kemp hot dogging it? Take a look below and I’ll let you decide.

This injury definitely could have been avoided had Kemp been running properly on the play. As we have seen so many times, Matt Kemp is an extremely talented player. He has the skills to dominate a game like we saw him to today. He can hit balls into the next quadrant, and can make spectacular plays in center field. However it seems that he still has trouble staying focused when on the field. What do you think? Could Kemp’s ankle injury have been avoided? Or was it just another freak injury, in a long season full of them?

It definitely could be considered a mental error, and Kemp was well aware of it, or so he told Andrew Simon of MLB.com

“It’s my fault. I wasn’t running hard,” Kemp said. “That’s an easy hit for CC (Crawford). I took a hit away from CC. CC has every right to be mad at me, because that was my fault. The results of me not running hard to home plate, I kind of tweaked my ankle a little bit. I’m more disappointed I wasn’t running hard like I should have been.”

After Kemp’s three hit game, he is now batting .263 with 5 home runs, and 27 runs driven in. The Dodgers have the advantage of playing a series up in Toronto starting tomorrow night and will be able to utilize the DH. Perhaps the Dodgers will DH Kemp during the Toronto series? The Dodgers are reporting Kemp’s status as day to day. But as Vin Scully once said, aren’t we all?

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