The Major League Baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint.
And Matt Kemp didn't even train for the 162-game race.
That's because Kemp was forced to spend the entire off-season rehabbing from ankle and knee surgeries. The Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder underwent surgery to repair his left shoulder and also a microfracture procedure on his left ankle.
Since 2007, Kemp has spent his off-seasons training at Zone Athletic Performance in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Kemp takes his off-season training seriously, says Garrett Shinoskie, director of strength and conditioning at Zone Athletic Performance.
Shinoskie says, "Matt is very focused when it comes to getting in shape, not only from the training standpoint, but he's focused on his diet and eating clean and dropping any excess body fat."
The off-season training at Zone Athletic Performance was the catalyst for Kemp's breakout 2011 season, during which he finished second in voting for the National League MVP award after leading the league in home runs (39), RBIs (126) and runs scored (115). Kemp also swiped 40 bases that season and was one home run shy of joining the elusive 40-40 club.
Kemp opened the 2014 season on the DL and got off to a rocky start upon his return to the Dodgers' lineup in April.
Kemp, though, is starting to heat up here in the summer months, and there are encouraging signs that he can really catch fire in the second half of the season. The two-time All-Star has already matched his 2013 totals in doubles, home runs and walks.
In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Daily News, Kemp said, "I know I'm going to be back to where I need to be as far as stealing a lot of bases and hitting home runs, driving in runs. I'm going in the right direction now.
"I've just gotta get my legs under me and work every day to get back to where I was before."
Shinoskie echoes those sentiments.
He says, "Matt is a tremendous athlete. He's fast, can change directions, has good hitting power and can throw the ball on a frozen rope."
If he can remain healthy, a return to his MVP form is certainly within reason.
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