Dodgers make roster moves

Backup catcher Chad Moeller and young right-handed pitcher Zach Hammes accepted Minor League assignments, and left-hander Tim Hamulack chose free agency, as the Dodgers cleared three spots off their 40-man roster Friday.

  Moeller, acquired in a midseason deal with the Reds, was impressive in brief opportunities during a September callup. Moeller has spent time in the Major Leagues every season since 2000, and he played a career-high 101 games with the Brewers in 2004.

The 23-year-old Hammes, a second-round pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, went 5-8 with a 5.23 ERA at Double-A Jacksonville this year, and he currently has a 5.06 ERA in five appearances in the Arizona Fall League.

Hamulack missed almost the entire 2007 season after injuring his elbow and undergoing Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. The 30-year-old split the 2006 season between Los Angeles and Triple-A Las Vegas.

The moves clear room on the 40-man roster for the expected activation off the 60-day disabled list of injured players Yhency Brazoban, Hong-Chih Kuo, Jason Schmidt, Chin-hui Tsao, Randy Wolf and Jason Repko.

Some Fire in the Smoke-- Tony Jackson of the Los Angeles Daily News noted that it appears there was at least some truth to an Internet report earlier this week that the Dodgers are talking to former Florida manager Joe Girardi about a position with the club. But it doesn't look like the Dodgers are trying to make Girardi their next manager.

According to multiple sources, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti has been in contact with Girardi about what is expected to be an opening on the coaching staff. More specifically, Girardi potentially would become manager Grady Little's bench coach if Girardi isn't named manager of the New York Yankees.

"The Dodgers won't be making any news until after the World Series," said Camille Johnston, the club's senior vice president for communications, in adherence with commissioner Bud Selig's edict that teams avoid upstaging the game's premier event.

Adding Girardi to the Dodgers staff would appear to instantly put Little on the hot seat next spring as he enters his third season at the helm.

The Dodgers are coming off a disappointing 82-80 season and fourth-place finish in the National League West. Girardi and Colletti have known each other since at least 1989, when Girardi made his major-league debut as a catcher for Chicago while Colletti was the Cubs' media-relations director.

Girardi was the NL Manager of the Year with the Marlins in 2006, his only previous season as a big-league manager, but he nevertheless was fired after that season because of a rift with owner Jeffrey Loria.

Girardi, 43, is fiery and energetic. That is in stark contrast to the reserved Little, who didn't seem to have a remedy for the clubhouse disharmony that bubbled to the surface late in the season and might have contributed to the team's downfall.

Little, who is signed through next season with an option for 2009, went home to Pinehurst, N.C., shortly after the season to decide what changes he wanted to make on his staff.

But almost a month into the offseason, there has been no word on those changes. Every member of the staff, whose contracts all expire Dec. 31, was given permission after the season to seek jobs elsewhere, but that didn't necessarily mean Colletti or Little wanted them to leave.

The Dodgers need a hitting coach to replace Bill Mueller, who is returning to the front office. Little also was believed to be strongly considering replacing bench coach Dave Jauss. Multiple sources said last week that Jauss was close to accepting a position with Pittsburgh, a claim Jauss later denied.

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