Kent hurt, figures to miss a week

Times Staff Writer

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Two days away from his 40th birthday, Jeff Kent was the victim of an unpleasant side effect of advanced age.

Warming up on Wednesday for a game that the Dodgers would drop to the New York Mets, 3-2, Kent strained his right hamstring. Though Manager Joe Torre and the Dodgers’ medical staff were uncertain about the extent of the damage, they conceded that it was more significant than the minor pains experienced by closer Takashi Saito and shortstop Rafael Furcal in recent days.

“It will be a week,” Torre said when asked how long Kent would be out.

Kent, who has refused to say whether he will retire at the end of this year, had problems with both hamstrings over the final stretch of last season. A strain of his left hamstring caused him to miss the first five games of August.


Still, Kent led the Dodgers with 20 home runs.

Because rain drenched Tradition Field, the Dodgers took batting practice in Dodgertown. Kent warmed up and felt fine, but evidently cooled off too much on the bus ride to the Mets’ facility. Five sprints into his warmup, Torre said, “he felt something grab him.”

“He didn’t think it was too bad when he did it,” Torre said.

The examination he received upon his immediate return to Dodgertown showed otherwise.

Saito, the Dodgers’ other aging star with muscular problems, felt that his strained right calf had improved enough to warrant a climb up a mound. Off the incline, the 38-year-old threw 12 pitches lightly.

“If the pain is at that level, it’s absolutely no problem,” Saito said.

Furcal, who left a game Monday because of tightness in his hamstrings, said he would travel with the team today to play against the Boston Red Sox in Ft. Myers.

Hong-Chih Kuo, who felt irritation this week in his surgically repaired elbow, will throw a side session today.

Making history

Non-roster invitee Chan Ho Park will start the Dodgers’ March 15 exhibition game against the San Diego Padres, Major League Baseball’s first game in China. Left-hander Eric Stults will start the second game of the series the next day.

Park, who struck out three batters over two scoreless innings Wednesday, said he was told that he was the first major leaguer to conduct a baseball clinic in China when he did so in 2000.


Brazoban is back

Yhency Brazoban admitted to being emotional when pitching Tuesday night, his first live game action in more than 10 months. Brazoban, who missed most of the previous two seasons because of injuries and underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in June, struck out two batters in a perfect seventh inning against the Washington Nationals.

“They were the team I faced when I got hurt,” Brazoban said.

Brazoban’s fastball sat in the 93-94 mph range and Torre described his slider as “terrific.” Brazoban is scheduled to pitch next on Friday.

Short hops

Brad Penny, who is in line to be the Dodgers’ opening day starter, pitched three innings and gave up a run and three hits and walked two. “I’m not letting go yet,” said Penny, who said that he mostly threw fastballs. “I’m trying to go out there to get pitches in and not worry about the results.” . . . Pitchers Brian Shackelford, Fernando De La Cruz, Rick Asadoorian and Alfredo Simon, and catchers A.J. Ellis and Gabriel Gutierrez were reassigned to minor league camp.




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