Kent's 2008 plans remain a mystery

Kent's plan for 2008 is not known

LOS ANGELES -- We know Joe Torre will be managing the Dodgers, we just don't know who those Dodgers will be.

And the unknowns aren't only the players the Dodgers could get, like Alex Rodriguez. A big unknown is a player the Dodgers already have -- second baseman Jeff Kent.

When last seen packing his gear after the 2007 season finale, Kent said he was driving home to Texas, would spend October reacquainting with the family and around November tell his agent whether he's returning for one last grab at the ring at age 40 or forfeiting the $9 million salary that vested to become a full-time dad and motorcycle dealer.

Agent Jeffrey Klein on Friday said the meeting with Kent hasn't taken place yet, but he cautioned not to overanalyze the influence Torre's hiring would have on Kent's decision, which Kent had said would be driven mostly by family considerations.

Klein is in a unique position with the current Dodgers. He not only represents Kent, he also represents Torre.

"I've never met a player who said he didn't want to play for Joe Torre," said Klein. "Joe is all about winning. That's who he is, because of his professionalism. Jeff has a lot of respect for that."

But, said Klein, Kent's priority is clear.

"The judgment he will make is based on his family, his wife and his kids," he said. "He's fortunate to have a family that has been supportive while he's focused on his career, but it takes a toll on a family for him to be gone."

Klein said Kent knew better than to make his decision while the wreckage of the 2007 season was still smoldering. Kent was in the middle of the mess, having spoken out after the Dodgers were swept in Colorado in September and fell out of contention. Kent's comments that the Dodgers' young players "don't get it" drew national attention and angered club officials.

The clubhouse fracture between kids and veterans involved many more Dodgers than Kent, and the fallout from the disappointing finish ultimately led to manager Grady Little's resignation and Torre's hiring.

"The comments made were not intended for any single person as much as they reflected a desire on Jeff's part to win and a hope that everybody was that passionate about the goal," said Klein. "It was borne out of frustration, which was reflected in the fans, who had the same sentiments."

If Kent returns, it will be his fourth Dodgers season and Torre will be his third Dodgers manager. Kent would be the graybeard in the middle of a youth movement, coming off a season in which he still was the most potent bat in the lineup, hitting .302 with a team-high 20 homers and 79 RBIs.

"He wouldn't have signed with the Dodgers if he didn't believe they were committed to winning," said Klein. "Nothing concerns me about the Dodgers not wanting to do everything they can to put a team on the field that can compete for the playoffs. [General manager] Ned [Colletti] is very focused on that."

Coaching staff update: Actually, no coaching staff update.

It is still believed that Torre will bring former Yankees coaches Don Mattingly and Larry Bowa with him, but Dodgers officials insist the composition of the staff is very fluid. It is not likely to be resolved by the time of Torre's Monday coronation, er, introductory press conference. Colletti is scheduled to leave immediately after the press conference for the general managers meetings in Orlando.

There have been reports that the club has decided pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and first-base coach Mariano Duncan would be retained, but Honeycutt said that was news to him.

"I haven't talked to Ned or Joe," said Honeycutt. "I like the rumor, but it's not confirmed by anybody. Hopefully, like they say on ESPN, the reality will catch up with the rumor."

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