After hitting wall, Kemp 'lucky' injuries aren't worse
Despite bone bruise in left knee, Dodgers star hopes to return Thursday
DENVER -- It wasn't funny when Matt Kemp crashed face-first into the center-field fence at Coors Field on Tuesday night, but he was able to laugh about it Wednesday after CT scans and MRIs revealed a bone bruise to his left knee, but no fractured jaw.
"It was more than scary," Kemp said. "I thought I died. Nah, but it was weird."
Kemp was not in the lineup Wednesday, replaced by Shane Victorino in center and Juan Rivera taking over for Victorino in left. Kemp said he hopes to be back Thursday, although manager Don Mattingly expects Kemp to be sore for a few days beyond that.
"He's gonna feel like he ran into a wall at full speed, if you can imagine that," Mattingly said.
And how does that feel?
"Now I know how a football player feels when a wide receiver gets hit and he doesn't know what hit him," Kemp said. "It could have been worse. I'm definitely lucky.
"I made it on ESPN the way you don't want to make it. Not the Top 10 plays. It scared my momma."
Kemp wound up with a bone bruise to his left knee, a sore jaw and needed three stitches for a cut on his chin. In his rookie season, Kemp suffered a separated shoulder slamming into the out-of-town scoreboard embedded into the right-field fence at Dodger Stadium.
"I thought I broke my jaw," he said of this collision. "I couldn't bite down on my left side. My knee is sore, but it's the meaty part near the quad."
Mattingly said with tests showing no serious injury, he will let Kemp determine when he's well enough to resume playing.
"He's got to be honest," Mattingly said. "It doesn't do us any good if he can't do anything."
Kemp was injured chasing what turned into a triple by Josh Rutledge in the bottom of the first inning. After taking several minutes to regroup and allowed to continue, the next two batters hit balls his way. Kemp made a belated diving attempt on Jordan Pacheco's bloop double, then fielded Wilin Rosario's RBI single, returned the ball to the infield and took himself out.
"Right after the [crash] I was thinking, 'Don't hit the ball to me,'" Kemp said. "And the next two in a row came, a fly ball and ground ball. Then I told Shane, 'I can't go no more. It hurts.'"
On Monday night, Kemp crashed into the screened fence in front of the Dodgers' bullpen chasing what turned into a triple by Tyler Colvin but shook off a sore hand and was able to finish the game.
"That's the wall one and Matt one," Kemp said. "I survived the first day, the second day the wall got me. We're tied. I hope we don't fight any more."
In the tradition of Mickey, Willie and the Duke, Kemp rejected the suggestion that he should be moved to a corner outfield position to save his body.
"I'm a center fielder, man," he said.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.