Kent to undergo surgery on left knee
Dodgers hope veteran can return in September as pinch-hitter
PHOENIX -- Second baseman Jeff Kent will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday, but the Dodgers actually expect him back before September is over, at least in a pinch-hitting role.
Kent has torn cartilage that is catching in the joint and doctors believe a minimally invasive procedure can clip the damaged portion while allowing the 40-year-old a short recovery time, although he's not likely to be able to play defense.
"From the report I got, we'll see what's in there, but he's not necessarily out," manager Joe Torre said.
Kent estimated he's been playing with torn cartilage for more than a month, but on a quick movement Friday night he felt it catch in the joint and the pain sent him to Los Angeles for an MRI. The club also expects Rafael Furcal to return in September from back surgery.
Although rosters expand Monday, the Dodgers in a procedural move placed Kent on the 15-day disabled list and recalled infielder Chin-lung Hu. Disabling Kent gives the Dodgers added flexibility if and when they make out postseason rosters.
The front office spent part of Sunday trying to make a waiver deal for a middle infielder. The Giants earlier rejected overtures for Omar Vizquel, but another candidate could be Tadahito Iguchi, cut loose by the Padres on Sunday.
Defensively, the club appears hesitant to rely on shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, in part because of his health. Angel Berroa has emerged as a semi-starter at shortstop because of his steady glove and throwing arm, even with a .224 batting average.
At second base, Blake DeWitt started Saturday and Sunday nights, but he's a rookie with limited experience at the position on any level. Casey Blake starts at third base, but he could move to second base if the Dodgers are more comfortable with DeWitt at third.
Torre said he prefers to go with offense over defense, which is why he's played Garciaparra at shortstop since his return from the disabled list, but Garciaparra is 3-for-28 in his last eight games, has gone 13 games without an extra-base hit and he did not start against Brandon Webb on Sunday night because he's 1-for-20 lifetime against the former Cy Young winner. Torre said Garciaparra has played a better shortstop "than I thought he'd do."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.