Kent ‘debatable’ for opener

Times Staff Writer

TUCSON -- Jeff Kent may be running out of time to get ready for opening day, Manager Joe Torre conceded Friday, which could leave the Dodgers with two big holes to fill in their infield.

“It may be debatable whether he has enough at-bats,” Torre said of Kent, who hasn’t played in a major league game since March 4 because of a strained right hamstring. “I know opening day is in sight. We have to evaluate how much is enough and make that decision.”

Torre said Thursday that he’s not expecting third baseman Nomar Garciaparra, who has a fractured bone in his right hand, to be able to play in the team’s March 31 opener. If Kent can’t play either, that will have an impact on Torre’s search for a replacement because Tony Abreu and Chin-lung Hu, who are among those competing for the starting job at third, are also the most likely replacements for Kent at second.

Hu had an RBI single in four at-bats and Abreu was hitless in four at-bats in the Dodgers’ 9-8 exhibition loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday. Hu is batting .243 this spring, Abreu .214.


Complicating matters further is the fact that if Kent is in the opening-day lineup but can’t play after that, the Dodgers would lose him for a minimum of 15 days by putting him on the disabled list. If they disable him before then, however, they could make the roster move retroactive, allowing him to return sooner.

“We’d have to make that decision when the time comes,” Torre said. “I think he’ll be close if he’s able to start playing at the start of the week.”

Kent, who did not accompany the team to Tucson, was expected to do some jogging in Phoenix and Torre said Kent will bat in a simulated game Sunday.

Garciaparra also stayed in Phoenix and participated in pitchers’ fielding drills, taking throws at second and third, then fielding grounders after batting practice. He did not throw or swing a bat in an effort to avoid aggravating his hand.


Jones goes deep

Andruw Jones had three hits, including a two-run homer, and Matt Kemp increased his big league-leading RBI total to 17 with a two-run double, but the Diamondbacks rallied from a six-run deficit to win behind a pair of three-run homers by Chris Snyder and a go-ahead, two-run homer by Justin Upton.

Snyder’s first homer came off starter Chan Ho Park, who hadn’t given up an earned run this spring. Upton’s game-winner came off reliever Rudy Seanez, who hadn’t given up a hit in three previous spring appearances.


Around the horn

In addition to the questions surrounding Kent and Garciaparra, the Dodgers say they have no firm timetable for the return of right-hander Jason Schmidt, who had season-ending shoulder surgery last June. “It’s crazy to be speculating right now until he feels back up to the level where he can start progressing and get on the mound,” pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said of Schmidt. . . . The Dodgers are carrying 41 players on their roster, 16 over the opening-day limit, but Torre said he doesn’t expect to make any moves before Monday. . . . Catcher Lucas May, pitchers James McDonald, Greg Miller, Justin Orenduff, Cory Wade and Ramon Troncoso, outfielder Xavier Paul and utility player Delwyn Young have all signed split major league-minor league contracts. Young’s deal is for $391,000 if he remains in the big leagues.


Staff writer Dylan Hernandez contributed to this report.



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