LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Los Angeles Dodgers will be playing the postseason without Matt Kemp.
They found out after ending the regular season with a 2-1 loss to Colorado on Sunday that their center fielder is done because of swelling in a bone in his sprained left ankle.
The news came as a surprise because a few days ago Kemp had said he felt good, and manager Don Mattingly was optimistic the slugger would be available for the Dodgers’ first postseason appearance in four years.
Now the Dodgers will open the NL division series in Atlanta on Thursday without Kemp and possibly Andre Ethier, whose status won’t be known until the team works out on Tuesday. He has been sidelined with shin splints.
“If you don’t have Andre and don’t have Matt, you’re not as good as you could be,” Mattingly said. “But we’re still good enough to win.”
The Dodgers won the NL West mostly without Kemp, who has been plagued by injuries this season.
“Without saying it in a bad way, we played all year long without Matt. We went 42-8 without Matt,” Mattingly said. “We’re capable of winning. We’re not going to roll over and act like something’s wrong now.”
Kemp missed 52 games over the last two months while on the disabled list because of the ankle. He was scratched from Saturday’s lineup in a precautionary move after starting the previous six games while trying to accumulate at-bats before the playoffs.
“It’s like a bad nightmare,” said Kemp, who left the clubhouse on crutches. “Two, three days ago I felt good at the plate. I was getting that swag back. A day later, they’re telling me I can’t play anymore.”
Dr. Neal ElAttrache said an MRI taken during the game showed microscopic evidence of swelling in one of the major weight-bearing bones in Kemp’s sprained ankle.
“That indicates a weakness in the bone and we need to protect it,” the doctor said.
ElAttrache said X-rays didn’t reveal the problem, and that if Kemp were to continue to play, he would risk breaking his ankle.
“We expect this would heal with rest, but it doesn’t heal quickly,” he said, adding that Kemp will be on crutches for a month with his ankle in a boot or protective splint.
Kemp also will have a cleanup procedure on his left shoulder during the offseason, ElAttrache said.
“I promise the fans of L.A. I’ll get back to form,” Kemp said.
The Dodgers lost four of their final five games to finish 92-70.
Their rally attempt came up short in the ninth after they loaded the bases with one out. Rex Brothers struck out Tim Federowicz and Skip Schumaker to end the game.
Jeff Francis came out of the bullpen to win his first start in more than three months, Michael Cuddyer won his first batting title, and Todd Helton singled in the final game of his career for the Rockies.
Colorado (74-88) earned its first winning record against the Dodgers since 2007, going 10-9.
Cuddyer went 1 for 5 with three strikeouts and finished the season with a .331 batting average to win the batting title by 10 points over Atlanta’s Chris Johnson, who was held out Sunday to rest his right shoulder.
Francis (3-5) made his first start since June 18 at Toronto, having made 11 previous appearances out of the bullpen. The left-hander allowed one run and three hits in five innings. Brothers earned his 19th save in 21 chances.
Helton was 1 for 4 with a walk and a strikeout, singling his first time up. The first baseman announced two weeks ago that he will retire after his 17th season in the big leagues. He finished with 2,519 hits, 592 doubles, and 369 home runs.
Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-8) walked his first batter of the game before giving up three consecutive singles, with Troy Tulowitzki driving in Colorado’s first run on his single to left. The Rockies made it 2-0 in the fourth on Charlie Blackmon’s RBI single.
The Dodgers’ lone run came on Skip Schumaker’s RBI single in the fifth.
Ryu gave up two runs and eight hits on four innings in an abbreviated outing ahead of the playoffs. The left-hander struck out four and walked one.
NOTES: Ethier was in Arizona on Sunday, but will rejoin the team for its workout Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. That will be the club’s last chance to evaluate Ethier’s condition before finalizing the playoff roster. “It’s really going to see what he can do,” Mattingly said. “Then we’ll decide if that’s going to be enough.” … The Dodgers became the first team since the 2010 Yankees to lead the majors in home and road attendance and the first NL team since 1988. A total of 3,743,527 fans attended 81 home games, while the road attendance was 2,863,247 in 81 games. … Dodgers RHP Peter Moylan’s wife, Amanda, sang the national anthem and “God Bless America.”
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