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Little Will Be Glad to Get Ledee Back

Times Staff Writer

Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent deemed himself OK to play Thursday after taking batting practice, delaying for a day the return of outfielder Ricky Ledee.

Had Kent felt pain in the abdominal muscle that sidelined him the last six games, the Dodgers would have placed him on the disabled list and activated Ledee, who has been on out since May 2 because of a groin injury. Kent was lifted in the sixth inning as part of a double switch after going 0 for 3 and striking out twice.

Manager Grady Little is eager to regain the services of Ledee, who would fill a need by giving the Dodgers a potent left-handed pinch-hitter. The only left-handed hitter on the bench is switch-hitting Jose Cruz Jr., a much better hitter from the right side.

“Ricky’s primary job will be to come off the bench and hit for us,” Little said. “I watched him take early batting practice and he was impressive.”

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Making room for Ledee on the roster won’t be easy unless a trade is made today, which isn’t likely.

Little said Cruz’s spot is safe and that struggling rookie outfielder Matt Kemp won’t be sent to triple A. The most expendable position player is Sandy Alomar Jr., who has been relegated to pinch-hitting duties since the Dodgers acquired backup catcher Toby Hall from Tampa Bay two weeks ago.

Although Alomar isn’t suffering an obvious injury, the Dodgers are considering putting him on the disabled list to open a spot for Ledee. A 40-year-old catcher can probably take his pick of body parts in need of 15 days of mending.

The Dodgers do not want to release Alomar, a stabilizing force in the clubhouse who is hitting .339 in 59 at-bats, and they aren’t inclined to ask him to go to the minors until rosters expand in September.

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A spot on the 40-man roster was created for Ledee by outrighting reliever Lance Carter, who cleared waivers and will remain at triple-A Las Vegas.

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Little is taking recent inflammatory comments by Hall in stride, saying he understands why the catcher doesn’t want to be with the Dodgers. But the manager won’t allow the comments to continue indefinitely.

Hall was the everyday catcher with the Devil Rays and is eligible for arbitration after the season. He believes his value is diminishing by sitting on the bench.

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“It’s a tough adjustment for him,” Little said. “Our No. 1 concern is to win.”

Could a disgruntled backup catcher impede that goal?

“We’d prefer a player didn’t do that,” he said.

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Third baseman Cesar Izturis is expected to leave the team for at least two days when his wife, Liliana, gives birth to their second child. Little said labor would be induced if the baby hasn’t been born by Monday.... Outfielder Jason Repko (high ankle sprain) began a minor league rehabilitation assignment at Las Vegas.... Pitcher Brett Tomko (abdominal strain) is scheduled to throw off a bullpen mound in the next few days.


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