After being criticized for poor performance, Dodgers’ Kemp is now bouncing back

<strong>Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly (left) gives Matt Kemp a handshake after the center-fielder hits one of his 12 homers of the season.</strong>

By Tamara Latta
Sports Writer

Last year was a beastly season for the Los Angeles Dodgers’s Matt Kemp, as he dated a well-known pop diva by the name of Rihanna. After a slow start swinging his bat, media outlets slandered Kemp, blaming his former girlfriend for his performance on the field. He was labeled as “being unfocused and distracted.”
Dating one of the world’s most popular pop stars can become overwhelming. If you are a high-profile athlete dating a well-known pop star, there are going to be ups and downs, which will eventually affect your career. Outlets reported that their romance ended in December 2010.
After being the headline of every entertainment blog, Kemp caught heat from Joe Torre, his former manager, and general manager Ned Colletti. Torre benched Kemp, and Coletti deplored Kemp publicly about his lack of performance on defense.
This year has changed; he’s getting praised for being the leader in the clubhouse and waking up his bat. You can most definitely tell that Kemp hit the “refresh” button and he’s having an outstanding season. He’s on a roll with 12 homers already this season. He finished last year with 28 homeruns. Kemp has also hit a spark, as he reached his 100th career homer against the Astros on Monday.
One thing the Dodgers were missing last season in the clubhouse was leadership. After a rocky season and Torre retiring, the organization was left unsure. But Kemp refreshed over the off-season and came back ready to take control. He felt the heat and the pressure, and he knew he had to carry the team on his back.
So far, we can say that Kemp is improving every day on the field and in the clubhouse. You can see it physically and mentally. He’s in a better place this year. This is the Kemp I was use to seeing two years ago, the smile, the positive energy, and just motivated to play the game. The Dodgers aren’t having a superior season, but they are becoming better. You can see that the players want to win and bring back the fight and hunger they had in 2009.
After a tough loss on Monday against the Astros, Kemp sent out a message via Twitter to all the Dodgers fans. “To all my real Dodger fans stay positive and have faith!!! We [are going to] turn this thing around. [We’ve got a] lot of baseball left to play!!” he tweeted.
Kemp has always had the potential to be one of the best center fielders in baseball. He is in the last season of his contract, and he’s showing that he’s on his way to stardom. The Dodgers will have to find a way to sign Kemp to a long-term deal in order to hold on to his rights. If the Dodgers are unable to sign him and another team snatches him, the new team will be rewarded.

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