Dodgers Sign Little to Contract Extension

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers announced that they have picked up the 2008 option for manager Grady Little and added a club option for 2009, according to General Manager Ned Colletti.

    |     The announcement was made before the Dodger-Cardinal night game in Holman Stadium Tuesday afternoon. Chairman and Owner Frank McCourt, General Manager Ned Colletti and Special Assistant to the Chairman Tommy Lasorda.

Little, 57, piloted the club to an 88-74 record in 2006, tying for the National League West Division title and claiming the NL Wild Card spot in his first season with the Dodgers. In three seasons as a big league manager, Little's career winning percentage of .568 (276-210) is the best among all current Major League skippers and the second best among all managers who have managed more than 400 games since 1970, trailing only Baltimore's Earl Weaver (.583).

"Grady has shown invaluable leadership and proven that he understands what it takes to win," said Colletti. "We have established a very strong relationship in a short amount of time and I'm very pleased to know that he'll continue to play an integral role in the future of this organization.

"I had great expectations for the first manager I hired and the trials of last season showed that Grady was the right man. Today he is the same man he was when we hired him."

The Texas native became the 25th manager in Dodger franchise history and finished fourth in the NL Manager of the Year voting after his first season in Los Angeles. Prior to becoming just the seventh Los Angeles Dodgers' manager, Little spent two seasons at the helm of the Boston Red Sox, going 188-136 (.580) during the 2002 and 2003 campaigns. His 93 wins in 2002 were the most by a rookie Major League manager since Jim Frey won 97 games in 1980.

"Last season was the start of some very good things for the Dodgers and their fans and I'm honored to be a part of this team and this franchise," said Little. "From Jamie and Frank McCourt to Ned Colletti and everyone throughout the organization, we are working as a team and headed in a very positive direction and I look forward to even bigger and better things in the future.

"The key is that we're doing it all together. We've made strides but we're not there yet. No doubt we'll be better this year and even better than that next year.

"We've got a chance to be a very good ball team for some time. I'm fortunate and honored to have been chosen."

Asked if the extension would sent a message to the players, he said "The players know who Grady Little is. I'll do the same job if I'm on a one year contract or a 10 year contract.

The 2007 season will mark Little's 34th year in professional baseball as a manager, coach or player. In 16 years managing in the minor leagues, he compiled a record of 1,054-903 (.539) and took his squads to the postseason on eight different occasions. Little won league titles with Hagerstown (1981), Pulaski (1986), Greenville (1992) and Richmond (1995). His 1992 Greenville team went 100-43 and set four league and 24 club records, earning him the Manager of the Year Award by both Baseball America and The Sporting News. The Pinehurst, NC resident also took home league Manager of the Year titles in 1981, '89, '92 and '94.

Lasorda added his personal congratulations and pointed out "If you don't like Grady Little, you don't like Christmas. We're fortunate to have a man like him as manager.

McCourt pointed out how important accountability is to him and the club. "It's Huge," he said. "To become the most successful team in baseball you need people all pulling in the same direction. We have that now."

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