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Valentin Says He’d Consider Retirement

Times Staff Writer

Taking a moment to reflect after returning to the city where he flourished for five seasons with the White Sox, Jose Valentin said he would consider retiring unless he is offered a major league contract during the off-season.

He has a one-year deal with the Dodgers for $3.5 million and does not expect them to re-sign him. The 35-year-old utility player owns a winter team in his native Puerto Rico, so he knows how these things go. His declining offensive production and balky knee have reduced his value.

“I want to keep playing, but the only way I’d come back is with a big league contract,” he said. “I don’t want to go to spring training not knowing if I’m going to make a team. If there isn’t a major league deal for me, I’d stay home.”

Valentin was expected to play every day at third base, but an injury to his right knee put him on the disabled list from May 4 to July 31. He wears a brace that he said affects his mobility and his swing.

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He is batting .177 with two home runs and 14 runs batted in. The low batting average is not unexpected, because he hit .216 last season for Chicago. However, he hit 30 home runs, his fifth consecutive season with 25 or more.

“The brace keeps me from swinging the way I want,” he said. “I can’t generate power. I can’t twist the way I want. It won’t let me.”

Valentin, who has made more than $32 million in 14 seasons, said his knee should be completely healed by spring training. His ability to play the outfield and infield could make him attractive to a team that wants a versatile veteran.

“I want one more chance,” he said. “I want to help somebody win.”

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Brad Penny’s appeal of his five-game suspension will be heard Wednesday. Because he is pitching today, even if the penalty is upheld he might not miss a start.

The suspension stems from a July 14 game against San Francisco when Penny was called out in the third inning after he beat out a bunt, turned toward second base and was tagged out. He argued with the home plate umpire, was ejected and flew into a rage.

Manager Jim Tracy said Penny would start Sunday at Colorado if the suspension is reduced. Should Penny serve five days, Tracy is unsure whether to push back his next start to Tuesday or have him skip a start.

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Outfielder Milton Bradley has yet to inform the Dodgers whether he plans to have knee surgery, Tracy said. But several sources said Bradley would not return even if he elected not to have surgery. ... Outfielder Ricky Ledee irritated his lingering hamstring injury beating out an infield single in the second inning and was removed in the fourth.


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