Manny Acta Newest Candidate

It seems somtimes as if you, gentle reader, and I are the only ones in the civilized world that have not interviewed for either the general managership or for manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. They recently received permission to interview the latest candidate, Manny Acta from the Chicago Cubs, and, along with Grady Little General Manager Ned Colletti, he will interview sometime this week for the vacant managerial position.

That leaves the Dodgers with four candidates for a position that's been vacant for nearly two months, team spokesman Josh Rawitch said Monday.

Acta, 36, who spent last season under Willie Randolph as the Mets' third-base coach, was selected two weeks ago to manage the Dominican Republic's team for next year's inaugural World Baseball Classic.

Prior to joining the Mets, Acta spent three seasons as Montreal's third-base and infield coach and served as a Spanish-English translator for the Montreal front office, coaching staff, Expos' players and members of the media.

In 2003, he managed the Licey Tigres to the regular-season championship in the Dominican Winter League.

The Dominican Republic product had a 419-432 record (.492) in eight seasons as a minor-league manager and has managed in the Dominican Winter League. He will manage the Dominican Republic team that will play in the World Baseball Classic in March.

Little, 55, has spent the past two seasons with the Cubs, first as a scouting consultant then as a roving catching instructor in the Cubs minor-league system.

Little had a 1,054-903 record (.539) in 16 seasons as a minor-league manager before serving on major-league coaching staffs in San Diego, Boston and Cleveland.

In his only seasons as a major-league manager (2002-03), Little led the Boston Red Sox to a 188-136 (.580) record and a wild-card playoff spot in 2003.

The 55-year-old Little was second-guessed for leaving starting pitcher Pedro Martinez in too long in Game 7 of the 2003 AL championship series, which the New York Yankees won in 11 innings, a move that cost him his job.

Colletti and a number of other Dodgers officials met with McLaren on Monday. McLaren termed the interview informative and productive.

"I came away really impressed with Colletti. He was real easy to talk to, very honest and straightforward, and I feel like we'd be on the same page as far as the direction of the organization," McLaren said.

"Not only do I think they've got some nice pieces at the big-league level, when you start looking at their farm system, they're 10-deep at a lot of spots, and there aren't many organizations that can say that. Whoever gets the job will have a lot to work with at all levels. It's an exciting opportunity."

Former Angels, White Sox, Phillies and Blue Jays manager Jim Fregosi already has interviewed and remains the front runner to replace Jim Tracy as manager.

Baseball's annual winter meetings begin Monday, December 5 in Dallas. Colletti has said he would like to name a new manager before the meetings but does not consider it a deadline.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Rumors have it that Colletti has been in contact with the agent of free-agent outfielder Brian Giles, who was with the Padres last season, and has talked with Tampa Bay about outfielder Joey Gathright, one of the fastest players in the major leagues. He can jump over a car with a running start, which is what he was doing when the scout that signed him caught up with him in the parking lot of his high school in Kenner, Louisiana. Runs a 6.1 in the 60-yard dash and has been clocked 3.3 from home to first on a bunt. He hit .276, .316, .340 (batting average, on base percentage, slugging) last year in 76 games and 203 at-bats with Tampa Bay. Among his 56 hits he had seven doubles and three triples but stole 20 bases in 25 attempts and recorded a sparkling 2.61 range factor. Gathright, 25, hit a combined .331 between AA Montgomery and AAA Durham. His 43 stolen bases tied for most steals among Rays minor leaguers. Has 134 stolen bases in 262 career minor league games. Following the season he played for Mesa in the Arizona Fall League and hit .365 with a league-best 15 stolen bases. Named by Baseball America as the 3rd-best prospect in the organization and was rated the fastest base runner in the organization by the publication.