Kent feeling Dodgers' recent changes

Kent feeling Dodgers' changes

ST. LOUIS -- Jeff Kent likes what he sees of the new-look Dodgers.

Kent played a role in the new look Thursday, being moved up to third to bat ahead of new slugger Manny Ramirez. The result for Kent was a three-hit, two-run game.

But as Kent points out, there have been more recent changes than the addition of the former Red Sox slugger, who has hit four homers in six games as a Dodger.

"I see progress, the way the guys are learning," Kent said after the Dodgers' 4-1 win over the Cardinals on Thursday. "We got Casey Blake to play third base, we added veterans in the bullpen [Jason Johnson and Brian Falkenborg] who have been around a bit. Obviously, we have Manny for a handful of days.

"Not only that, we've had progress with the kids, and you expect that with the experience they are getting over a full season and the learning that comes with failure. We have a new hitting coach in Don Mattingly. We had Takashi Saito go down, but Jonathan Broxton has stepped right in without a hiccup. We're making a push."

Kent said the addition of veteran hitters Ramirez and Blake, joining him and Juan Pierre, balance out the lineup and present a greater challenge for opposing pitchers.

"It makes for a more formidable lineup at the top, at the middle and at the bottom," he said. "We have a better chance to score when we can attack from different angles."

He said he's been particularly impressed with the progress of some of the club's young hitters.

"You expect that of the kids with the opportunities they've had," he said. "You look at Matt [Kemp], he's swinging the bat well after being an easy out at the beginning of the year. He's become more patient. Andre Ethier is a solid hitter. Instead of the two rookie third basemen, we've added Blake. And Russell [Martin] is holding his own and done a good job. Everybody has gained some experience and that's what you hope will happen as you get close to the end of the season."

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