The batting order for the 2012 Los Angeles Dodgers hasn't yet been finalized by manager Don Mattingly, but two things that are certain are that shortstop Dee Gordon will lead off, and that center fielder Matt Kemp will hit third. Monday was the day for position players to report to Dodgers camp at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona, but almost everyone had been in camp for at least a few days prior to Monday, including Kemp.
It's time to play follow the leader.
"Last year not only did he put up great numbers, he played hard every day. I can't remember a stretch of time where he was tailing off. It takes a lot to lead," general manager Ned Colletti said of Kemp. "It takes a lot of dedication and a consistent performance in what you do. I see him getting more comfortable in that role."
Kemp hit .324/.399/.586 with 39 home runs and 40 stolen bases in 2011, and finished second to Ryan Braun in National League Most Valuable Player balloting. Manager Don Mattingly knows Kemp is a pillar of his lineup, but is realistic in his goals for 2012.
"It's hard to expect guys to play at that level," said Mattingly. "To expect Matt to win the triple crown, that's not fair."
Mattingly said his center fielder is a team leader, noting, "Matt sets the tone. When he's playing hard, busting his butt, getting down the line, everybody else has no excuse not to work as hard."
For more on Kemp and the Dodgers, head on over to True Blue LA.