PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) - Two things Matt Kemp never expected happened this offseason: The Los Angeles Dodgers traded him, and it became public he has arthritic hips.
Kemp made it clear Tuesday both are now non-issues. He's eager to help his overhauled new team, the San Diego Padres, try to wrestle the NL West away from his old team. And those hips? He insists they won't slow him at the plate or in right field.
"I think everybody has some situation going on as far as being arthritic in their bodies," Kemp said on reporting day for position players.
"All you guys have something going on in your bodies. But it's finding a way to get around it and being successful. I actually feel really good. My hips feel great and I'm ready to go."
The 30-year-old Kemp was in a jovial mood as he claimed the open locker between him and another big offseason acquisition for San Diego, left fielder Justin Upton. The former Atlanta slugger casually placed a backpack in the open stall.
"We've got a beef already," Kemp said, with a grin. "Chemistry's bad."
In reality, Kemp is seen as the one to lead the new outfield. Wil Myers, the AL rookie of the year in Tampa Bay, is now in center field.
"I've been on some talented teams," Upton said. "It's a matter of how much we come together."
New general manager A.J. Preller was perhaps the busiest executive in the game this offseason after the Padres finished last in batting average (.226), on-base percentage (.292) and runs scored (535) a year ago.
Preller finished his offseason spree by signing free-agent right-hander James Shields to be the new ace.
"Definitely, A.J. and those guys made some moves that I think shocked a lot of people," Kemp said.
Kemp acknowledged he didn't see his move coming. He had spent his entire nine-year career with the Dodgers, collecting 182 home runs, two Gold Gloves and two All-Star selections. Kemp became a fixture in the LA celebrity scene as well, including a stint dating Rihanna.
"I think most people in my situation think that they would always be a Dodger," Kemp said. "But I'm not."
Kemp stressed he's happy to be just down the road in San Diego, where he already owned a home.
"I get to save some money and live in my own house," Kemp said.
Not that money will be tight. Kemp is still owed $107 million in the deal he signed with the Dodgers. Terms of the trade call for the Dodgers to pay $32 million of that.
Some speculated the Padres were seeking more money from the Dodgers when news of Kemp's arthritic hips leaked out after his San Diego physical. Kemp has also been slowed by shoulder and ankle surgeries in recent years.
But the deal eventually went through as is, and Kemp said he'll have no limitations in spring training.
"Just stretch a little more, I guess," he said, smiling.
Manager Bud Black said he's been impressed with Kemp's presence, as the slugger arrived in camp early and has been a fixture in the weight room.
It's hoped Kemp has enough left and is adequate enough defensively to help the Padres end a postseason drought that dates to 2006.
San Diego went 77-85 last year, finishing 17 games behind Kemp's Dodgers. That's expected to change with Kemp and Upton batting third and fourth.
"He's a great power guy," Kemp said of Upton. "So we'll feed off each and have some fun."
NOTES: Black said all position players reported on time. The first full workout is Wednesday. . Black identified Brandon Morrow, Odrisamer Despaigne, Robbie Erlin and Matt Wisler as the early candidates for the open fifth spot in the rotation. . Shortstop prospect Jose Rondon, acquired from the Angels in last year's Huston Street trade, will be in big league camp this spring. . Black said RHP Casey Kelly is "getting better" from a groin strain that has him sidelined.
Tuesday, January 16 2018 10:36 PM EST2018-01-17 03:36:51 GMT
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