Notes: Roster moves in the works
With Ledee returning from DL, Little weighing several options
ST. LOUIS -- Ready or not, second baseman Jeff Kent was back in the Dodgers' lineup on Thursday night for the first game after the All-Star break.
But the decision was made only one hour before first pitch, after Kent took batting practice and convinced club officials that the strained oblique muscle that had kept him out since July 4 had healed enough.
Had Kent been unable to go again, manager Grady Little said the second baseman would have been placed on the disabled list to make room for Ricky Ledee, the first in a series of pending roster moves. Ledee is healed from a pulled groin muscle suffered May 1, and Little said he wants to have Ledee's experienced left-handed bat off the bench. Kent would have been disabled retroactively and missed the next six games, but the clock starts anew now.
Barring a trade, the Dodgers still need to clear space for Ledee, who rejoined the club (but not the roster) after a Minor League rehabilitation assignment at Double-A Jacksonville. Little indicated that demoting rookie Matt Kemp or displacing veteran Jose Cruz Jr. were not the ways he was leaning. However, he did leave open the possibility of reducing the number of catchers from three to two.
With Russell Martin solidly the regular behind the plate, an unhappy Toby Hall would probably remain active, while veteran Sandy Alomar Jr. could qualify for the disabled list due to the fragile condition of his knees.
But there are other moves in the works. Third baseman Cesar Izturis' wife is expecting to deliver a child any day in Los Angeles. When it happens, Izturis will leave the club for a few days to join her. If it doesn't happen by Sunday, Little said she would be induced on Monday. Either way, Izturis will be gone for a few days.
Little said he is reluctant to play shorthanded in the infield. Considering the success the Dodgers have had promoting their young prospects this year, the next one that could get the call figures to be third baseman Andy LaRoche, who has returned from a slight labrum tear in his right shoulder.
To provide flexibility for Ledee's return, the Dodgers removed Triple-A reliever Lance Carter from the 40-man roster and outrighted him back to Las Vegas. That means Carter, who made the Major League club out of Spring Training, cleared waivers.
Hall sounds off: Hall is stepping up efforts in the hopes the Dodgers will trade him. An everyday player for four years with Tampa Bay, he was acquired with Mark Hendrickson two weeks ago to serve as Martin's backup.
Hall said serving as a reserve compromises his arbitration leverage for a 2007 contract.
"It's not helping me or the club to catch once a week," said Hall, expected to start Saturday. "Some people say I'm complaining about playing time, but that's not it. I'm looking to the future. I have no future here. I got traded into this. There are plenty of guys out there who can do this.
"It's a weird thing. I've tried to be positive, but my agent is fed up and I'm fed up. A lot of people ask me why I'm here and I have no answer. It's a top-notch organization, but they have a catcher with a future, so in the equation, I don't add up."
Little has spoken with Hall several times since he arrived.
"It's understandable," Little said of Hall's complaints. "Coming from being a No. 1 catcher, it's a tough adjustment he's going through right here right now. Everyone has a different personality. In our situation, we're trying to win enough games to get in the playoffs, and he's a big part of that."
Injury update: Little said disabled pitcher Brett Tomko is expected to throw off a mound in St. Louis to test his tender oblique, but the righty had not arrived by the start of batting practice Thursday.
Disabled outfielder Jason Repko began a Minor League injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas that is expected to last a while, perhaps three weeks or longer.
Repko, who suffered a serious high ankle sprain on May 9, still is not running full speed on the bases. Repko's ability to play center field makes him especially valuable to the Major League team, considering the amount of rest starter Kenny Lofton requires.
Disabled outfielder Jayson Werth is scheduled for an examination at the Mayo Clinic to determine if he will undergo another operation on his left wrist.
Coming up: Derek Lowe (7-5, 3.88 ERA) opposes Chris Carpenter (7-4, 3.08 ERA) on Friday night at 5:10 p.m. PT in the second game of a four-game set in St. Louis.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.