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Second baseman Kent makes an emotional exit

A TEARFUL Jeff Kent, baseball's leading home run hitter as a second baseman, struggled to contain his emotions while announcing his retirement from the game at Dodger Stadium on Thursday.

The five-time All-Star, renowned for his dour demeanor as a player, drew the curtain on a 17-year career in the majors, having spent the last four seasons with the Dodgers.

"I'm gonna try to push through this the best I can, forgive me," Kent, 40, said during his farewell news conference. "I leave this game proud that I have treated this game with the utmost respect. But now my time's over.

"I didn't expect to be so emotional right now, because I played the game with a business-like attitude," added the Californian, who frequently paused while he spoke.

"I think it's just a testament that, deep down, I'm emotionally attached to the game."

Kent, whose 351 career homers as a second baseman are 74 more than Ryne Sandberg, retires with a .290 career batting average, 1,518 RBIs and a .500 slugging percentage. He hit a total of 377 home runs throughout his career.

National League MVP in 2000 with the San Francisco Giants, he will be replaced at second base for the Dodgers by Blake DeWitt, who took over when Kent was sidelined through injury last season.

After becoming the first 40-year-old Dodger to go into a season as a starting player, Kent batted .253 midway through the 2008 campaign.

He caught fire after Manny Ramirez was added to the lineup, hitting .353 in August before injuring his knee.

Although he returned to make the postseason roster, he was relegated to the bench and went 0-for-9 with four strikeouts in two playoff series.

He ended the regular season hitting .280 with 12 homers and 59 RBIs and became a free agent in November.

Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said: "We close a great chapter today on a great baseball player who finds himself to be the best offensive second baseman in the history of baseball."

Kent, who turns 41 in March, was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1989 and also played for the New York Mets, Cleveland, San Francisco and Houston.


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