Updated at: 08/28/2013 6:35 PM
By BETH HARRIS
(AP) LOS ANGELES - Matt Kemp ran the bases on Tuesday for the first time since spraining his left ankle a month ago, and the Los Angeles Dodgers slugger said he’s getting closer to returning.
Kemp said he felt better than he had expected because he was skeptical about how things would go. The next step will be running the bases again Wednesday. If things go well, manager Don Mattingly said Kemp could be cleared for a minor league rehab assignment.
"Everything felt pretty much normal," Kemp said. "In the back of your mind, you feel like, `Man, I just sprained my ankle,’ so you kind of like take it easy. But I felt really normal after the third or fourth time, so I just let it go."
The minor league regular season ends Monday, although Class A Rancho Cucamonga could reach the postseason, which would give the Dodgers more time to get Kemp in some rehab games. Kemp said he has no plans to go to Arizona and play in instructional league games there.
"When I do join the team, I’ll be ready to go," he said. "I just need at-bats."
Kemp has been on the disabled list since July 24, his third stint there this season.
His return will make things interesting in the outfield, where Carl Crawford has been playing in left, Andre Ethier in center (Kemp’s usual position) and rookie Yasiel Puig in right.
"I don’t know why people keep asking me what role I’m going to play. I want to play every day," Kemp said. "I don’t like to sit out of games. I like to give my team a chance to win, and I feel like I can do that."
Mattingly answered carefully when asked how Kemp will fit into the lineup again.
"I’m not going to try to make lineups out now," he said. "I don’t want to throw anybody aside, but you get to a point where it’s got to be about us winning. Matt’s had a hard year physically and I think he’s going to understand. Somebody is going to be mad."
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)