Kemp vows Braves fans will see 'Matt Kemp of old'
ATLANTA (AP) Matt Kemp says his trade to the Atlanta Braves gives him a fresh start with the team he cheered for as a child.
In a letter on The Players' Tribune website , Kemp wrote that he was ''a huge Atlanta Braves fan'' while growing up in Oklahoma because he followed the team on TV.
''Our little old TV picked up TBS, which meant I got to watch my Braves, so I was happy,'' Kemp wrote in the letter entitled ''Hello Atlanta.''
''That was my team! I used to rush home from school to finish my homework so I could turn on the TV and watch Chipper Jones, Ron Gant, David Justice, Fred McGriff, Greg Maddux and Jon Smoltz play their hearts out for the Braves.
''As a young boy, I dreamed of one day suiting up and playing in front of the home crowd in Atlanta. Now, all these years later, I'm going to be able to live out that dream.''
Kemp included a family photo of himself as a boy wearing a new Braves jacket while standing in front of a Christmas tree.
The Braves acquired Kemp, a two-time All-Star outfielder, and $10.5 million from San Diego for troubled outfielder Hector Olivera on Saturday night.
Kemp wrote that after reflecting on his career with the Dodgers and Padres, ''I would be lying if I didn't admit that I had begun to lose some of my love for the game.''
''In so many ways, I got sidetracked from what I loved most about playing the game of baseball - having fun,'' he wrote. ''I let a big contract, the Hollywood lifestyle, injuries and bad relationships tarnish the reputation I had worked so hard to establish. Sadly, I gained a reputation for being selfish, lazy and a bad teammate. While I may not agree with all the criticism I received in the past few years - and while I believe that a lot of it was unmerited - I take full responsibility for my shortcomings. And I promise you, Atlanta: Those days are gone.''
Kemp is expected to make his Braves debut in Tuesday night's home game against Pittsburgh. The Braves were off on Monday.
He promised Braves fans he will be the ''Matt Kemp of old - the kid who was the first at the park and the last to leave, the kid who would take cuts in the cage till has hands bled, the kid who would literally run through a wall for his teammates, the kid who was playing to win . not for a contract - that's the kid who's on his way to Atlanta.''
Added Kemp: ''And the Braves of old will soon be the Braves of now. This is going to be so much fun, Atlanta.''
The Braves (37-68) have the majors' worst record.