Piniella Says 'Thanks But No Thanks'

Former Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella will not be a candidate for the Dodgers' managerial vacancy. Terry Collins may or may not be a candidate. That leaves Jim Fregosi as the front-runner as well as Collins (maybe) an unnamed trio of other possibles left in the marathon search for a Dodger skipper.

Piniella, whom the Devil Rays let out of his contract last month, told Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti that the timing isn't right for him to return to the dugout.

Colletti said he (Piniella) was very flattered that the Dodgers had come to inquire but apparently he was not interested at this time. ""He said it wasn't the right time," said Colletti. "He said a year from now he'd be all over it. But he didn't know if he could do it justice."

The new General manager and three high-ranking members of his staff -- Kim Ng, Roy Smith and Logan White -- met with Atlanta special assistant Jim Fregosi, making Fregosi the first candidate to be formally interviewed for the job since Colletti was named GM.

The 63-year-old Fregosi, who has managed four clubs over 15 Major League seasons, worked with Colletti as a special assistant to the GM with the Giants.

The meeting took place in the Tampa Bay area, where Fregosi lives and where Colletti attended San Francisco GM Brian Sabean's wedding on Friday night.

Colletti also met privately with Dodgers player development director Terry Collins, another Tampa Bay resident. Collins was former GM Paul DePodesta's choice for the job, but that ended when DePodesta was fired on Oct. 29.

Whether Collins, 56, will be a candidate is still to be determined. A Major League manager of two clubs for six seasons, he was the apparent choice of general manager Paul DePodesta to replace Jim Tracy, who left at season's end, citing philosophical differences with DePodesta. But chairman Frank McCourt dismissed DePodesta three weeks ago and suspended the manager search.

Collins has received -- and has deserved -- considerable credit for his role in the resurrection of the Dodgers farm system. Colletti said there were two meetings with Collins, a briefing on the farm system that included his top staffers, followed by a one-on-one.

The search process apparently isn't close to being completed. Colletti will be formally requesting permission in the coming days to interview three members of other Major League staff's about the position and to gauge whether such permission is likely to be granted.