Read More »
VERO BEACH, Fla. – Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent said Wednesday he has yet to decide whether he will retire after the upcoming season. He also said he doesn’t know when he will make that decision and that until he does, he has no interest in discussing it. “Last year, I talked about that a lot,” Kent said. “This year, I won’t, and maybe that is a telltale sign that it might be (his last year).” It clearly played a major role in the fact he hit just 14home runs, his lowest single-season total in a decade. But Dodgers strength and conditioning coach Doug Jarrow visited Kent last fall at his Austin, Texas, home and left him with specific instructions for a new workout program geared toward those oblique muscles. “Contrary to most beliefs, I do lift weights all the time,” Kent said. “I always work out in the offseason. But we added a new workout schedule for new body parts.” Changing colors: Dodgers first baseman Nomar Garciaparra said club officials have told him there is a plan to change the color of the Dodger Stadium dugout club seats behind home plate in an attempt to prevent injuries and fielding errors. Last year, the seats were a pale yellow color. Consequently, infielders routinely lost the path of the ball after it left the pitcher’s hand because it blended into the scenery. “I think they’re going to go to kind of a teal green,” Garciaparra said. “They asked me about it, and that was great of them to do that. The organization listened to what we were saying. They wanted to do it right.” Several infielders, both with the Dodgers and with opposing clubs, complained about the problem last season, the first year for the ballpark’s new color scheme. Changing minds: Dodgers manager Grady Little said earlier this week that he decided who his leadoff man was but wouldn’t announce it until after meeting with Rafael Furcal. That seemed to be an indication that Furcal would drop to the No. 2 spot behind newly signed center fielder Juan Pierre. But Wednesday, Little said he had changed his mind and was withholding judgment. “To be honest, I find myself changing from one morning to the next,” Little said. “So I’m not going to make a decision until I am dead set that it’s the way I want to go.” email@example.com (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “By December, I was ready to play baseball,” Kent said. In other words, the notoriously dour Kent – who has ridden his admittedly indifferent attitude toward the game to what probably is a Hall of Fame career – has a new attitude, now that his bothersome left oblique has finally had enough time to properly heal. He was smiling broadly as he entered the Dodgers’ clubhouse, shaking hands with teammates along the way. Last spring, Kent signed a one-year, $11.5 million extension that will kick in this season. The complicated deal carries a $7 million club option for next season, with a $500,000buyout, or a $9 million vesting option if Kent has 550 plate appearances this year. And if Kent has that many plate appearances, it will mean he was reasonably healthy throughout 2007 – which might motivate him to return in 2008 if he still feels productive. Kent now admits the oblique strain, which landed him on the DL from July 18- Aug.7, continued to bother him the rest of the season. Kent then covered his bets by seeming to suggest he will return in 2008. The last Dodgers player to report to spring training, he said that after an injury-plagued 2006 in which he went on the disabled list twice, he began looking forward to the next season earlier than ever.