CHICAGO -- Except for an occasional pinch-hitting appearance, Jeff Kent figures to be watching the National League Division Series from the bench.

That wasn't exactly his plan when he decided to play another season at age 40, or as he rushed his rehab from left knee surgery in time to be added to the postseason roster. Manager Joe Torre, however, decided it would be his plan because, shortly after Kent was injured, "we started winning and didn't mess with it."

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Torre stuck with Blake DeWitt at second base and Kent, who missed most of the month with knee surgery, would bolster the bench with his clutch bat. He bounced into a double play pinch-hitting in Game 1.

"I had a conversation with Jeff on Saturday and he told me he felt he could play, and I told him what my plans were, to start DeWitt at second," Torre said. "He wants to play and he certainly understands and has understood the fact that whatever I want to do is certainly -- he respects that, let's put it that way.

"Right now, Blake is doing fine. He's had good at-bats. He played during the time we were doing well. I just wasn't going to mess with it right now. "

Kent said his knee still isn't 100 percent, but it's healed enough to play. He said he wanted to play more the final week of the regular season "to show I could play in order for [Torre] to make a decision on me, whether I was healthy enough to play or not."

Kent's first appearance after his return was Sept. 24. He played in four games (three starts and a pinch-hitting appearance), had eight at-bats but four hits, including a home run. He never played longer than five innings.

By contrast, a 31-year-old Rafael Furcal returned from 4 1/2 months on the shelf and back surgery. He had virtually the same workload as Kent, playing in the same four games, going 2-for-9, playing no more than six innings. But Furcal reclaimed his starting shortstop job, played all nine innings of Game 1 and started again in Game 2.