One signing that hasn’t gotten nearly the amount of publicity it deserves due in recent days is the return of Jeff Kent. This guy is a gamer, a future HOFer and exactly the type of player that the Dodgers need. He’s the linchpin of the infield and a fantastic role model for kids playing any sport. I think the friction with the Dodgers’ “kids” at the end of last year was definitely an issue, but the fact of the matter is that the Dodgers need someone who won’t take any crap and is willing to come out and hustle every day. Sure, Kent likes to be by himself in the clubhouse and isn’t one to socialize with his teammates, but in past radio interviews I’ve heard with him on KLAC-AM with Times columnist T.J. Simers, he’s always said it’s not because he’s anti-social, but that in order for him to be successful he needs to keep his game face on every single moment that he’s at the park. He’s afraid that if he lets his intensity level down before a game that it might carry over on to the field. Knowing that only makes me respect the guy more. He knows what works for him and he’s sticking with it. After all, he’s the all time leader in home runs for a second baseman and led the Dodgers with 20 HRs at the age of 39.
One last thought on Jeff: I really think the combination of Kent and Joe Torre will go a long way in establishing some much needed clubhouse chemistry and keeping the younger guys in check. At the very least, you know Jeff was psyched to hear about the Andruw Jones signing!