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12/12/07 1:15 AM ET

Kent will return to Dodgers in 2008

Second baseman exercises option, will play 17th season

LOS ANGELES -- Second baseman Jeff Kent has notified the Dodgers he will return for the 2008 season, according to his agent Jeffrey Klein.

"Jeff has advised Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti that he intends to play in 2008, and is looking forward to returning for his fourth season with the Dodgers," Klein wrote in an e-mail.

"He is actively pursuing his customary and rigorous offseason conditioning and weight-lifting program, and is very focused on helping his team win the World Series this year."

A $9 million option for 2008 vested for Kent in September, but when the season ended in disappointment, Kent said he would take some time to decompress and evaluate whether he wanted to take another crack at winning his first World Series or retire and spend time with his family in Texas. Kent will turn 40 during Spring Training.

Some suggested Kent merely was biding his time to see which direction Dodgers management would take during the winter. Kent's decision came less than a week after Colletti acquired free-agent center fielder Andruw Jones and more than a month after Joe Torre was hired to replace Grady Little as manager.

Throughout the offseason, Colletti said he was proceeding expecting Kent to return.

Kent did no harm to his Hall of Fame credentials with another consistent offensive season in 2007. He hit .302 (his highest average since 2002), led the club with 20 home runs and 36 doubles and finished second with 79 RBIs in 136 games. He hit .324 during September, when the rest of the club went into a tailspin.

But he had his customary brush with controversy, airing his frustration with everything that had gone wrong in '07. He complained specifically about the attitude and approach of young players and indirectly indicted Little, the coaching staff and just about everyone associated with the club.

The upcoming season will be Kent's 17th in the Major Leagues.

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