ATLANTA -- Newspaper columnists lured agent Dave Stewart and coaches Larry Bowa and Bob Schaefer into opposing sides of controversy, but Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp stayed mostly above the fray Friday, even if he was the reason for the fray.

"I've got nothing really much to say," Kemp said when asked about the latest Los Angeles Times column quoting his agent saying that criticism of Kemp from coaches -- some of which was written two weeks ago in a Times column -- was unfair and might make a trade preferable to remaining with the Dodgers.

"It's been pretty frustrating for all of us," said Kemp. "Things haven't gone quite as planned, personally and team-wise. I'm going to try to make the best of the rest of the season, play hard and see how it turns out."

Since the second column was posted on the paper's website Thursday night, Schaefer and Bowa called Stewart separately. Schaefer said he called Stewart to set the record straight saying, "I never made a negative comment in the paper [about Kemp].

"He's frustrated. We all are about the current situation," said Schaefer. "I called because I didn't appreciate him taking a shot at me as a coach. He didn't mean it that way. It's no big deal. It's our job to help the players make themselves better. There's no animosity with anybody. Matt Kemp is a good kid. He's not a bad person. We have communication going now, maybe that will help."

Schaefer and Kemp are linked because Kemp was benched for three starts in late June after a dugout incident when he failed to back up second base on a steal attempt, was reminded of his responsibility by Schaefer, and Kemp then snapped at Schaefer.

Bowa said he spent 90 minutes on his call with Stewart, the main topic being Bowa's earlier comments in the Times that Kemp's play this year hasn't matched his "Hall of Fame" talent, and even Kemp agreed. Bowa said he didn't understand why there was anything wrong with what he said and told Stewart that.

"I don't know what they want me to do," Bowa said. "I guess it's our fault he's having a bad year. We'll take the heat."

Bowa sounded annoyed, but said his conversation with Stewart "went great. Two ex-players talking to each other. It ended very good."

Stewart agreed.

"As far as I'm concerned, everything is dandy," said the former Dodger. "I'm at peace with what needed to be said. I'm not trying to fight anybody. The more Bowa and I talked, we're a lot alike in how we like to see the game played. I just didn't think the place to talk about Matt was in the media, and I thought I left Bowa in a place he understood.

"I'm not defending how Matt's played. He understands he needs to be better and play better. It's just that there are 25 players, there are other players not playing well. Why is my guy getting trashed?"

Broxton demoted from closer role

ATLANTA -- The day after Jonathan Broxton's monumental meltdown in Philadelphia, manager Joe Torre said the All-Star closer had lost his job, at least temporarily until he regains confidence.

Torre also revealed that he told Broxton a week ago he would be sharing the closer role with Hong-Chih Kuo, but it did not become evident because the situations did not arise.

"I just told him [Friday] I would take him out of that role right now," said Torre. "He just needs to have a couple outings to get his feet back under him again. We need to get the guy we had back. Physically, he's fine."

Torre said Kuo would be his first call to close, but because of the lefty's brittle elbow, his would be a "limited engagement," sharing the load with recent acquisition Octavio Dotel and even rookie Kenley Jansen. He said when Kuo pitches on back-to-back days, the second day would only be for one hitter.

"We need to plan on winning more than every other day," Torre said.

But Torre also said he expected Broxton to reclaim the closer role.

"Absolutely," Torre said. "He was the All-Star closer, for crying out loud. He's the reason the National League will have the home-field advantage [in the World Series, because Broxton saved the All-Star Game]. This game will beat you up. You need to fight back. He's of a mind to earn it back. He's not burying his head in the sand. He needs to get his confidence back. The quicker we get this thing solved, the more comfortable we'll all be."

Torre said he would use Broxton in late-game situations, but not save situations. Broxton has converted 21 of 26 save situations with a 3.50 ERA, but Thursday night in Philadelphia, he didn't retire a batter while letting a three-run lead disappear into a crushing 10-9 loss. His ERA in July was 7.45.

Torre was asked if usage could be a cause of Broxton's wildness.

"I don't think so. I think it's more here," Torre said, pointing to his head.

Broxton, who was not available for comment before Friday night's game, would go on to toss a scoreless eighth inning against the Braves.

Manny news good; not so much for Furcal

ATLANTA -- The Dodgers finally had an upbeat report on the health of disabled outfielder Manny Ramirez, but not so much on disabled shortstop Rafael Furcal.

Ramirez jogged on a treadmill at the club's Camelback Ranch-Glendale complex in Arizona, while continuing to do all baseball activities except running the bases.

"He had a good day," said trainer Stan Conte. Ramirez has been disabled since July 17 with his second right calf muscle strain this year and still hasn't run full speed.

However, manager Joe Torre said it's now "unlikely" that Furcal will be healthy enough to be activated Tuesday, when he's eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list.

"He's better than yesterday, but [discomfort] hasn't disappeared," said Torre. "When he's void of discomfort, he'll go to rehab. Today, he still feels it."

Lee still unsigned; Dodgers ink Ethier kin

ATLANTA -- With the Monday deadline to sign selections from the June First-Year Player Draft approaching, the Dodgers are still apparently nowhere with first-round pick pitcher Zach Lee, who continues to practice as an incoming freshman quarterback at LSU.

The two-sport star was taken with the 28th overall pick and is believed to be seeking a bonus of $5 million or more. Earlier this week, Lee told reporters he had not heard from the Dodgers since Draft day. If the Dodgers do not sign Lee, they will receive the No. 29 overall pick in next year's Draft as compensation.

One signing the Dodgers announced Friday was Devon Ethier, 20-year-old brother of All-Star outfielder Andre Ethier. Devon is a right-handed-hitting left fielder from Gateway Community College in Arizona. He was the club's 32nd-round pick.

The Dodgers have signed 13 of their top 17 picks, but they are believed resigned to not signing sixth-rounder Kevin Gausman, another high school pitcher also committed to LSU.

The Dodgers have signed a total of 25 of their 50 picks. Last year, the Dodgers signed their top 10, 18 of the first 19 and 30 of 51.