Notes: Davis studies Kent's technique

Notes: Davis studies Kent's technique

LOS ANGELES -- The man who holds the all-time Dodgers record for RBIs in one season met the man with the only chance this season of even coming close to matching that record.

Tommy Davis, who drove in a mind-boggling 153 runs in 1962, made a point of studying Jeff Kent's hitting technique during batting practice Friday night, before Davis took part in pregame ceremonies marking the 40th anniversary of the 1965 World Series championship season.

"Kent's a patient hitter," observed Davis, who became a personal hitting coach after his playing days. "He doesn't get too excited. Good hitters don't. Guys like [Hank] Aaron, [Willie] Mays. This guy knows how to drive in runs. I always felt that when there was a run to be driven in, I saw dollar signs."

That Davis' record still stands is an indicator of how remarkable that record was. The closest any Dodger has come since was Shawn Green's 125 in 2001. The best prior to that was Roy Campanella's 142 in 1953. Kent is on pace for 132 this year.

Davis' record came at a time when pitching generally dominated hitting and he played home games in a new, pitcher-friendly ballpark. OK, it also was an expansion year, with the New York Mets and Houston Astros debuting. He still had 12 RBIs more than the next closest player that year, Mays.

"It was just one of those years," said Davis. "Maury was stealing 104 bases and I had Frank Howard (119 RBIs) batting behind me. We had Willie Davis and Ron Fairly and John Roseboro. We had a good lineup and I had guys on base ahead of me. I remember getting a bloop single and driving in three runs. Everything went right -- until the playoffs."

That would be the sudden-death playoffs against the Giants that prevented the 1962 Dodgers from advancing to the World Series.

Bradley improved: Disabled outfielder Milton Bradley reported a "breakthrough" in his recovery from a tear in a finger ligament and he's started swinging a bat again, predicting he could return to the lineup by next weekend.

"It just stopped hurting last night around 6 o'clock," said Bradley, who suffered the injury on a swing two weeks ago. "Look at this -- I'm swinging this bat. You're a witness."

Tracy said Bradley currently has better strength swinging right-handed than left-handed.

More injury news: Disabled starting pitcher Odalis Perez will throw another bullpen session Sunday, after which it will be determined if he's ready to start an injury rehabilitation assignment.

Speaking of a rehab assignment, Elmer Dessens makes another start for Las Vegas on Sunday with a target of 65-70 pitches, after which he could be activated. Dessens would then be a candidate to start against the Chicago White Sox on Friday or Saturday.

Tracy said those games would be started by some combination of Dessens, D.J. Houlton and Derek Thompson. Perez is not a candidate.

Disabled catcher Paul Bako continues to make solid progress in his recovery from a sprained knee, and will get the acid test catching a bullpen session Tuesday in Kansas City.

Disabled pitcher Wilson Alvarez and outfielder Ricky Ledee will not make the trip to Kansas City.

Choi: Tracy said Hee-Seop Choi's walk-off home run against Terry Mulholland on Friday night could lead to a start against a left-handed pitcher, should one show up in road Interleague games next week.

"With the designated hitter, it could afford us the opportunity to see where Hee-Seop is on a regular basis against left-handed pitching, and we'll look into that," Tracy said.

Tracy added that Choi's ability to hit left-handed pitching is not his only consideration in deciding who starts at first base.

"It's not so much my hesitancy about starting him against left-handed pitching, rather it's to get Olmedo Saenz at-bats that also make him a better pinch-hitter," he said.

Choi has 13 of 148 at-bats this year against left-handed pitching.

Penny's contract: Indications are that Brad Penny's contract extension will be announced Sunday. Penny will receive three years guaranteed at $25 million with a fourth-year option that would push the total package value to $32 million.

Coming up: Houlton gets his second Major League start Sunday against the Twins. "I'm not going to change anything from the first [start], it was pretty successful," said Houlton, who limited Milwaukee to one run in 5 1/3 innings. "I'm not worried about the next one or the first one. I'm just enjoying it."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.