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DODGERS FYI

Kent might return this season

September 03, 2008|Dylan Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

The surgery that Jeff Kent underwent Tuesday morning didn't reveal any unexpected damage in his left knee besides torn cartilage, leaving open the possibility that the 40-year-old future Hall of Fame member could play again this season.

Kent is expected to start a rehabilitation program today that could be completed in two weeks.

"It was as good as we could've expected," Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said.

Kent was put on the 15-day disabled list Sunday and is eligible to be activated Sept. 14.

But Conte said it was premature to say when Kent could return, and that the recovery process could last from two to eight weeks.

"Truthfully, the next three to four days will really tell us what kind of potential we'll have for getting him back," Conte said.

Manager Joe Torre said it was unknown whether Kent would be able to do anything more than pinch-hit later this season.

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So far, so good

Blake DeWitt, who didn't commit an error in his first three games as Kent's replacement, started his fourth consecutive game at second base.

Third base coach Larry Bowa, a two-time Gold Glove winner at shortstop and the coaching staff's resident expert on fielding, called DeWitt a "work in progress."

"He's improved a lot in one week," Bowa said of DeWitt, who was the Dodgers' opening-day third baseman and hadn't played at second base since high school.

Bowa has been hitting extra grounders to DeWitt at second base and said the rookie has adjusted his footwork and shortened his arm action.

Bowa said he believes DeWitt has the physical tools to make a permanent move to second base, if necessary. Such a move could be in the works, as the Dodgers are planning to have DeWitt play second base in the off-season in the instructional league or in a winter league in Latin America.

Whether DeWitt is the Dodgers' second baseman for the rest of this season remains to be seen since the club is actively looking to make a waiver deal for a middle infielder.

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Another step for Saito

Closer Takashi Saito had what he called a "big day," throwing 25 pitches in a bullpen session that kept him in line to be activated next week.

Saito said he threw his fastball as hard as he could and that he felt no pain. He was particularly pleased that he was able to throw his two-seamer without any problems, saying he thought the pitch was potentially more hazardous to his elbow than his slider.

"The two-seamer puts stress on the inside part of the elbow, which is the part of the elbow that I hurt, so today was a big day for me," Saito said.

Saito is scheduled to pitch on the side Thursday and in a simulated game Saturday. Torre said that Saito probably would have to pitch in two simulated games before being activated.

Torre said he planned to use Saito in a low-key situation in his first outing, but that if the right-hander is able to throw all of his pitches, he could reclaim his role as closer after that.

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Short hops

Conte will travel to Arizona to check up on shortstop Rafael Furcal, who has been working out with physical therapist Brett Fischer. Furcal had surgery July 3 for a bulging disk in his back. . . . Angel Berroa started his fourth consecutive game at shortstop over Nomar Garciaparra.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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