Kent, other injured Dodgers cautious

Kent, other injured Dodgers cautious

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Jeff Kent's strained right hamstring has healed well enough for him to play -- yet that doesn't mean he's about to take the field anytime soon.

"It lingers longer when you play on it -- any injury," Kent said. "I've had quad pulls and hamstring pulls my whole career. It's typical of what baseball players go through, nothing different."

Kent hasn't played in a Grapefruit League game since straining the hamstring March 5, at which point Dodgers manager Joe Torre guessed his second baseman would need about one week to heal. Now that one week has passed, and though Kent said he would certainly play if this were the regular season, it's not. This is Spring Training, so he might remain sidelined until the Dodgers begin playing exhibition games in Arizona next week.

"There's no rush," Kent said. "No need to prolong the injury by playing on it or risk hurting the quad because you're pulling your hamstring around."

That's a sentiment shared by third baseman Nomar Garciaparra, who hit off a tee with a fungo bat Tuesday and repeated that exercise Wednesday. Garciaparra hasn't played since being hit by a pitch last Friday and leaving with a sore right wrist.

"That's the beauty of Spring Training," Garciaparra said, noting that while he still felt pain Wednesday, the swelling in his wrist had begun to subside. "Instead of pushing it, you can kind of take your time."

Closer Takashi Saito also made progress Wednesday, throwing pain-free batting practice to both Kent and injured first baseman Mark Sweeney. Reporting no problems after participating in pitchers' fielding practice on Tuesday, Saito approved Wednesday's session only after the lingering tightness in his right calf had disappeared.

Bothered by the calf all spring, Saito originally cut short a bullpen session last Friday after feeling pain, then tried again Monday with better results. Wednesday's session marked his first opportunity to face live batters since the setback.

"My condition is very good," Saito said through a translator. "After I threw the bullpen last time, I felt very good. Before that, I felt some tightness in the calf, but I didn't feel that at all."

One other injured Dodger, infielder Tony Abreu, flew to Philadelphia on Wednesday to visit with Dr. William Meyers, the sports hernia specialist who performed surgery on him last October. He was due back at Dodgertown on Wednesday night.

Abreu entered Spring Training as Kent's primary backup at second base, but lingering effects from the hernia surgery -- along with soreness in his right buttocks -- have limited him to just one Grapefruit League game.

"Abreu seems to be more hurt than I am," Kent said. "I've never seen this before. He's missing a grand opportunity to show his wares."

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