Kent Signs Contract for 2007 -- Maybe 2008

Jeff Kent, Dodger All-Star second baseman, signed a ccontractextension through 2007 with a vested option for the 2008 season. The quality of the team ignited a desire to play another year of so and the Dodgers quickly agreed that it would be a good idea. Manager Grady Little decided to go with 12 pitchers, Rafael Furcal hurt his back and will be out a week and player transactions have got the club closer to the 25-man roster that will start the season.

General Manager Ned Colletti, who made the announcement of Kent's resigning outside the Dodger clubhouse early Wednesday morning, pointed out that he "was the best player on the club -- the organization knows him and knows his work ethics. That's who when they talk about the Hall of Fame, his name comes up,"

Kent said he believed that this would be his last season but after talking to his family and friends, as well as Owner Frank McCourt, he felt he could play another couple years.

"I'm very comfortable with wha thas been done here," said Kent. "They bring in Ned Colletti and Grady Little, that proves to me that these guys have what it takes to win. The longer I stay here increases my chances of being part of a winning organization."

"They have signed a number of good players and it is so much easier to work when you are surrounded by quality talent. TTheseguys want to win as badly as I do and I want to stay around to help make that happen," Kent said.

"I grew up in Southern California and while I can't say I grew up wanting to play for the Dodgers, I always knew they were a special team."

When asked if the front office/managerial change helped make up his mind he said "I don't want to say anything about that. Jim Tracy had to tape things together last year but combined with a desire to win, the comfort level and quality of talent is higher this year and the new atmosphere created by Mr. McCourt, Ned Colletti and Grady Little has made a big difference.

"I really like Grady, the way he goes about his business, and I like the things I've learned about him from other people," he said.

Kent, who gets $9.4 million this season, will receive a base salary of $7 million in 2007 plus a $2 million signing bonus and plate appearance incentives that could add $750,000. He has a vesting contract in 2008 based on 550 plate appearances in 2007. That contract, if vested will pay $9 million in 2008 with incentive clauses. If not vested, the Dodgers have an option for $7 million or a $500,000 buyout.

Kent, baseball's all-time home run leader among second basemen (306), signed with the Dodgers as a free agent on Dec. 4, 2004.

In 2005, he led the Dodgers in nearly every offensive department, including at-bats (553),, hits (160), homers (29), RBI (105), and slugging percentage (.512).

His 105 runs batted in set a Los Angeles record, breaking Charlie Neal's record of 83 in 1959, and his 29 homers tied Davey Lopes for the club mark. He is one of only seven L.A. players to reach the 100-100 mark in runs and runs batted in, including Adrian Beltre, Shawn Green, Gary Sheffield, Mike Piazza, Jimmy Wynn and Tommy Davis.

Furcal Injures Back-- Shortstop Rafael Furcal, who is the hottest hitter on the team (.440), suffered back spasms while running the bases in the Dodger win over Detroit Tuesday. Then to compound things, he attempted to score on a wild pitch, sliding head-first into home plate. He underwent three hours of treatment and an MRI indicated a sprain. He is day to day but may miss a week.

Player Moves-- The Dodgers finally decided to open the season with 12 pitchers. They told long relievers Aaron Sele and Brian Meadows they would not be on the 25-man roster Opening Day and recalled left-handed reliever Tim Hamulack. Meadows asked for his release and the request was granted. Sele will take a day or so to determine what he wants to do.

Shortstop Cesar Izturis was placed on the disabled list as was outfielder Jayson Werth and that allowed the recall of Hamulack. With Eric Gagne's health and Hong-Chih Kuo's history of elbow problems Little and his staff opted to go with 12 pitchers, at least initally.

Utilityman Oscar Robles' status depends on the length of time Furcal is disabled. If he goes on the DL, Robles would make the club. If Furcal is to be sidelined only a few days, the club might still keep Robles and go with four outfielders by sending Jason Repko to Triple-A Las Vegas.

The The pitching staff will have starters Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, Odalis Perez, Brett Tomko and Jae Seo and relievers Gagne, Danys Baez, Yhency Brazoban, Lance Carter, Kuo, Franquelis Osoria and Hamulack.

A decision still must be made on catcher Russell Martin -- who will make the team if Dioner Navarro's hamstring is determined to need more rest and outfielder Cody Ross, who is out of options and will certainly be lost if he is put on options. Catcher Pat Borders will play for Class A Vero as was originally planned and backup Sandy Alomar Jr if he is injured.

Grissom Retires-- Marquis Grissom, after 17 exceptional major league seasons, has decided to hang his glove up for good. He made the announcement in Arizona where he had a minor league contract with the Chicago Cubs. Grissom played for the Dodgers 2001-02, hitting .277-17-60 in 2002. He aalsoplayed for Atlanta, Milwaukee and San Francisco.

Dodger Blue Notes-- RHP Brian Meadows asked for an was granted his release. Meadows was 1-1 with a 9.58 earned run over six games and 10.1 innings during the spring. …Closer Eric Gagne's fastball topped out at 92 mph against Detroit but no one seemed to care. "It's too early to worry about speed," Gagne said. "It's more how I feel the next day and how I bounce back." …Cincinnati scouts were in Dodgertown for the Detroit game and stayed for a minor league game at Holman Stadium between Jerry Royster's Las Vegas club and John Shoemaker's Jacksonville team. There were no indications that a trade between the Dodgers and Reds is in the works. …USA Today picked the Giants to win the National League West Division with the Dodgers coming in second. They noted that Brad Penny needs to win 17 games to establish himself as the club ace. They listed the 'Worst Case Scenari if injuries force Olmedo Sanez and Ricky Ledee starting on a regular basis. They apparently have never heard of Joel Guzman or Andre Ethier.