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His average dipped to .249 that season, but he still hit 28 home runs. His return to the lineup that July lasted for one game, as he suffered a left ankle injury when sliding into home plate, a play in which Kemp later said he wasn't running hard. Kemp returned in mid-September, but it was a short stay.
But I've just got to deal with it."In 2014, his last season with Los Angeles, then-manager Don Mattingly moved Kemp out of center field, first putting him at left and then later in right.He says he's not sure how old he was, but the picture depicts him holding a bat and taking a mighty cut—"I don't know if I was swatting flies.Hopefully I don't swing at pitches like that now," he wisecracks—with a look of determination on his young face, long before the glitz and the glamour ever entered his life."You look at a picture like that, and that's like—that's me as a kid dreaming about playing baseball, and now I'm living that dream," Kemp says.ATLANTA — On a late afternoon in June, Matt Kemp settles into the right-handed batter's box at Sun Trust Park to take his cuts. He's reminding baseball fans of the player who nearly won the National League triple crown in '11, when he led the league with 39 home runs and 126 RBI, finished third with a .324 average and also stole 40 bases. Then a second trade, this time to the Braves, and chatter about his San Diego mansion not selling at auction. Conversations surrounding him provide a pleasant hum.The first few pitches tossed his way during batting practice end up sprinkled in the outfield grass. Back then, it seemed like he would be a Dodger and a superstar for life. There was the tabloid fodder—like dating Rihanna in 2010. He admitted in a post on the Players' Tribune that he had "let a big contract, the Hollywood lifestyle, injuries and bad relationships" get to him, which earned him a "reputation for being selfish, lazy and a bad teammate."He was trending dangerously toward another label: bust. He looks laid-back, wearing a black T-shirt that reads "EQUALITY" on the front and "42" on the back, in homage to Jackie Robinson. A fan in May uttered the N-word and threw a bag of peanuts at Orioles outfielder Adam Jones.
After the season, the Dodgers traded him to San Diego.