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Torre thinking ahead with Kent out

Torre thinking ahead with Kent out

CHICAGO -- Jeff Kent missed his second consecutive start with lower back tightness Wednesday night, prompting more lineup juggling by manager Joe Torre, who again said it wasn't out of the question for third baseman Blake DeWitt to take a turn at second base.

Although Andy LaRoche is being tested all over the infield at Triple-A Las Vegas, DeWitt has a full Minor League season at second base and said he would have no problem returning to the position if the situation arose and LaRoche returned to play third base.

"I'm not shutting anything off," said Torre. "If there's a move that makes sense, we have to think about it."

Torre said he didn't believe Kent's injury would be long term -- Kent was believed available to pinch-hit Wednesday -- but nobody thought Rafael Furcal's bad back was serious in the beginning, either. Furcal's been out nearly three weeks.

Torre also said that the reality of Kent's future -- he's 40 years old and in the last year of his contract -- requires the club to not only win now, but plan ahead.

"When you've had injuries like we've had, especially with Raffy involved, you want to see the versatility you have. With young players, you do that," Torre said.

"You want to see what options you have or how your mind works going into next year. But that's not the only reason you're doing it because when you see where we sit, we haven't won with regularity but we know with just a little streak, we could be in first place. We have to look toward next year but certainly understand what we have to accomplish this year. But whatever flexibility we have has got to help."

Torre said Kent was particularly frustrated with this recent injury having appeared to snap out of a prolonged offensive slump with three hits Monday.

"It's frustrating him, in the fact that he knows certainly he's a better hitter," said Torre. "He's getting older, but he's pretty honest. If he doesn't think he can still hit, he certainly would hone up to that fact. I don't see it."

With Furcal and Kent out, Torre had rookies Chin-lung Hu at shortstop and Luis Maza at second base joining fellow rookie DeWitt at third.

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

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