Dodgers Inside Pitch -- November 15

   Loyalty can go a long way. It carried Don Mattingly and Larry Bowa from New York to Los Angeles, and from the American League to the National League. "It's a challenge, but I like working with Joe," said Bowa, who spent the last two seasons on the Yankees coaching staff.

"He's like in those E.F. Hutton commercials where when he talks, everybody listens. He has a presence about him that enables everyone to get on the same page. If you don't want to get on the same page, it's time for someone to move on. Joe will establish that."

Bowa will coach third base for the Dodgers. Mattingly was a candidate for the vacant managerial position with the Yankees until the job was given to Joe Girardi. Though he didn't get that job, he was able to reunite with Torre, someone he's worked with for the past four seasons.

Mattingly will be the Dodgers' hitting coach, replacing Bill Mueller, who took the job midway through the 2007 season and will return to the front office.

Mattingly plans to take a few days off before digging into his new job. "I'd really like to go in, start looking at swings (on video), check things out and hopefully get a chance to start talking to these guys before spring training and get a relationship going," Mattingly said. "I love working for Joe. I'm excited about the talent on this ballclub." Mattingly's aspirations of becoming a big-league manager have not dwindled despite the Yankees' decision to go with Girardi. Eventually replacing Torre and taking over as the Dodgers' skipper is not out of the question.    General manager Ned Colletti said he would like to have a coach groomed to be a manager in the future. Bowa's been there. Mattingly has not. Since the Dodgers have more coaches to hire, it's unclear who would be groomed for such a position. The Dodgers can't deny that Mattingly would be a good prospect.

"I have aspirations to manage some day," Mattingly said. "I really felt like I could do it (with the Yankees), but I'm not on a timetable to do anything. Nobody's talked to me about the next manager of this club. I don't really want to get involved with that.

"I want to come for the players. We're coming to win, and that's what it's all about."

   For now, Mattingly will be content to focus on what he's been hired to do. It's one challenge at a time, as far as he's concerned.

   "There is no guarantee in anything you do," he said. "I come with Joe to the National League and look at this as a challenge. It's an eye-opener. I'm looking forward to the challenge of this ballclub, the new league and everything." Notes and Quotes
--3B Andy LaRoche went 3-for-4 with two doubles and drove in four runs, leading Team USA to a 7-0 victory over Panama in World Cup action and was instrumental in wins over Spain and South Africa, moving the Americans into the quarter finals.
Team USA improved its record to 2-0 with the victory.    --RHP Takashi Saito announced that he would like to return to the Dodgers for one more season, but negotiations with the team have slowed. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti wants to re-sign Saito and expects it to happen, and he admitted that the Dodgers have the upper hand. The Dodgers own the rights to Saito, and his only other option would be to return to Japan.
   --OF Luis Gonzalez, frustrated by dwindling playing time, announced that he had no interest in returning to the Dodgers. He followed that up by filing for free agency after the season ended. Gonzalez had a change of heart after the Dodgers hired Joe Torre as their manager. "The credibility that Joe and his coaches bring is definitely intriguing," Gonzalez said.
   --C Russell Martin was one of the better offensive players at his position last season, but he was recognized for his defensive skills when he was awarded the National League Gold Glove. Martin posted a 3.95 ERA as a catcher, fourth-best in the NL, in 145 games. He threw out 30 percent of potential base stealers.
   --LHP Randy Wolf did not have his $8 million option for 2008 picked up by the Dodgers, in a move that was expected. The Dodgers, however, would like to bring Wolf back in 2008 for less money in an incentive-filled contract.

Marlins Outline Wants--Industry sources say the Florida Marlins are leaning toward the Dodgers or Angels as the eventual winner in a proposed trade for third baseman Miguel Cabrera.

Apparently the determination came after contacting several interested teams at the general manager's meeting in Florida. However, it is not know if the Dodgers and Angels are offering the most in return or if the Marlins feel they have the best young talent to offer.      

The Marlins have asked the Angels to include second baseman Howie Kendrick and top pitching prospect Nick Adenhart in any trade and would like the Dodgers to include pitcher Chad Billingsley or top pitching prospect Clayton Kershaw, perhaps both. The Marlins will insist on top young pitching in any deal.

But if the Marlins are determined to ask for two pitchers as part of a package of three or four players, the Dodgers do not have the depth for such a deal, unless Florida intends to include pitcher Dontrelle Willis.

That would give the Marlins an estimated $20 million in payroll next season by dumping the salary of Cabrera and Willis.

Kent Still Undecided-- Despite talk show host Larry King's remarks made to over the weekend, Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent has not decided whether he'll return to play the 2008 season, according to his agent.

"I spoke to Jeff Kent on the phone yesterday, and Jeff's really enthused," CNN's King said at his 2007 King of Hearts Awards Gala in Beverly Hills. "There was a question if he was going to play out the last year of his contract -- no doubt about it. He's looking forward to playing for Joe Torre."

But Jeffrey Klein, Kent's longtime agent, said Kent spoke with King about playing for Torre, but never said he was returning.

"Jeff has not decided yet about whether to return for 2008," Klein re;ports. "His mind is not 'made up' as the story states, nor did he say that to Mr. King. He is going to take his time, continue to talk with his family and see how the team takes shape for the coming season. He understands why Mr. King is 'justifiably excited' about the 2008 Dodgers, but did not comment about his own plans."

Kent has a $9 million guaranteed salary for 2008. Last week, general manager Ned Colletti said he was "pretty sure" Kent would return and Torre said he spoke with Kent by phone and he sounded "pretty upbeat and positive he was looking forward to coming back next year. I hope that's the case."

Bench Coach Candidate-- Bob Schaefer, who was twice the interim manager of the Kansas City Royals, is a candidate to be the Dodgers' bench coach. Schaefer held that position last season with the Oakland A's, but did not have his contract renewed.

Schaefer said he has had conversations with Colletti and Manager Joe Torre. "We're still in the talking stages," Schaefer said.

Schaefer managed Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly in the New York Yankees' Class-A affiliate in Greensboro, N.C. in 1980. Schaefer said Mattingly recommended him to Torre.

Mattingly and Larry Bowa are the only coaches under contract to be on Torre's staff but Mariano Duncan and Rick Honeycutt are expected to be re-signed.

So Long Tsao-- Right-hander Chin-hui Tsao, who missed much of the 2007 season with injuries, was out-righted to Triple-A Las Vegas and instead elected free agency. Right-hander Yhency Brazoban, another whose season was cut short by shoulder surgery, received medical clearance to begin a throwing program.

Giants Raided Again-- The Dodgers hired Rick Lembo as assistant trainer on Tuesday. Lembo takes the place of Todd Tomczyk, who was promoted to replace longtime trainer Stan Johnston, who was dismissed. Lembo had been the head Minor League trainer for the San Francisco Giants. Most recently, he was trainer at Fresno State.

Padres Dealing-- Feeling that Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti, who inherited a dynamic group of young and inexpensive players but seems to have an afinity for veterans, rumors have it the Padres are contemplating three-team trade scenarios that would bring them young Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. And barring a dramatic turn, the players union and club owners expect to approve plans that will match the Padres and Dodgers for two spring-training games in China. That is expected to result in the Dodgers, upon their return, finishing the remainder of spring training in Phoenix.

Going Home?-- The Yankees and Alex Rodriguez may be ready to kiss and make up. The Yankees want something in the range of nine years and $260 million. This would allow both ARod and his agent Steve Boras to save face. The two apparently got few bites on their proposed 10-year, $350 million circus that they "accidentally" (wink, wink) broke into the World Series to announce. What a difference three weeks make.

By The Numb3rs>/b>: 3 -- Players who played for the Dodgers in 2006 and won World Series rings with the Red Sox in 2007 (RHP Eric Gagne, SS Julio Lugo, RF J.D. Drew).

Dodger Blue Notes-- San Diego made a real coup by signing Greg Maddux for $10 million with an option. He future Hall of Famer made all 34 scheduled starts and went 14-11 with a 4.14 ERA. Not many MLB teams topped that move in regard to money spent and results obtained. ...

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