PHOENIX (AP) -Los Angeles Dodgers manager Grady Little says this season has been the ``most challenging of my managing career,'' particularly because he has had to mix lineups of youngsters and veterans.
His comments came on the heels of the Dodgers being swept in four games by the Rockies in Colorado, effectively knocking Los Angeles out of the playoff race.
After the latest loss on Thursday, 16-year veteran Jeff Kent complained about the lack of professionalism of the team's young players.
``I think he shared the frustration with all of us at this point in time,'' Little said before the Dodgers opened a three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night. ``When you just lose four games in Colorado like we did, there's not too many of us that don't feel the frustration that he feels.''
Little wouldn't comment on the specifics of Kent's remarks.
``I haven't talked to Jeff yet,'' Little said. ``First of all, I've got to find out what he said. I know what's been written and what's been said about it today, but I'm not going to even comment on that until I hear from him what he said.''
Kent wasn't talking Friday, but after Thursday's 9-4 loss, he indicated there was a division between the way the younger players go about their jobs and the way the veterans do it.
``We have some good kids, so don't get me wrong,'' Kent said. ``But it's hard to translate experience, and I don't know why they don't get it.''
He elaborated.
``It's just a lot of things,'' Kent said. ``It's professionalism, it's knowing how to manufacture runs, it's knowing how to keep your emotions in it.''
Kent has a $9 million option for next season, and said he hasn't decided if he will return.
Asked if the younger players went to the older ones enough for advice, Little responded, ``It's a two-way street.''
``It's like a marriage,'' Little said. ``For those to work successfully, that's a two-way street, too.''
The Dodgers were favored by most to win the NL West, but Little said he was always having to juggle the lineup to find the right mix, especially after key injuries and a lack of production from certain positions.
``If we could have operated the entire season basically with the lineup we came out of spring training with,'' Little said, ``I would have loved nothing better.''
That would have allowed the youngsters to break in slowly, he said.
Players are different today then they were when he started managing in 1980, Little said.
``You know you're going to see some things you don't believe sometimes and hear some things you don't believe you're hearing sometimes,'' Little said. ``But you tell them the right away as quick as you can. Hopefully they'll learn from it and get better, they'll grow from it.''
Everyone on the team must share responsibility for the disappointment, he said.
``I certainly do as manager,'' Little said. ``I'm the one who writes the lineup every day. I'm the one that pushes the buttons in all the games, waiting for the results to happen to see if it was the right button or the wrong button. I'm as responsible as any player we've got out there.''

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