Torre's New Book Dealing Him Fits

Even before it was released on Jan. 27, Joe Torre's new book, "The Yankee Years," which actually was penned in third person by co-author Tom Verducci, had caused more of a stir than either Torre or Verducci ever intended.

More than a week before the book's release, two New York newspapers characterized the book as Torre's blistering tell-all of his spectacularly successful but often-tumultuous 12-year run as manager of the New York Yankees.

While Torre was set to appear on Larry King Live on Jan. 30, three days before the book's release, Verducci was doing his own media tap dance in an effort to clear up any misunderstandings -- and as an apparent pre-emptive strike against any ruffled feathers among those who played for Torre with the Yankees.

The one element of the book that seems to have garnered the most attention was a claim that early in Alex Rodriguez's tenure with the Yankees, his teammates began referring to him as "A-Fraud," and that Rodriguez developed an obsession with team captain Derek Jeter akin to that portrayed in the movie "Single White Female."

Verducci, in an interview with WFAN radio last week, denied those claims came from Torre.

"Joe Torre certainly wasn't name-calling," Verducci told the station. "(He) certainly didn't use the phrase 'A-Fraud' or 'Single White Female.' That is why it is so important to know it is a third-person narrative."

While Rodriguez went on record last week as saying he wasn't bothered by Torre's comments, at least one of Torre's former players in New York, pitcher David Wells, clearly was. USA Today's Game On! blog reported that Wells called Torre a "punk" in an interview with an ESPN Radio affiliate in Los Angeles.

"What we do as athletes, that's our problem and our business," Wells told the station. "And a lot of guys have come out and destroyed that. That's why they don't have any friends. ... People just don't do it, and that's what Joe did. When you break the code, you're a punk. If he broke the code, he's a punk, absolutely."

Notes and Quotes
--Torre was more open about the Dodgers' desire to re-sign All-Star outfielder Manny Ramirez on the Larry King Show, saying, "We're trying. I spoke to Manny a couple of times just to let him know we definitely want him. I know Russell Martin has spoken to him. Hopefully, we can get something done. We'll see."

Torre also talked about Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras. "Scott Boras, I've known for a long time," he said. "We were both in the Cardinals organization. I'm a lot older than Scott. He's a very tough man, very tough agent. He does a good job for his clients and just as I said, I hope we can find some middle ground here somewhere."

--OF Andre Ethier might be headed for an arbitration hearing, which is scheduled for Feb. 17 in Phoenix. The only one of the Dodgers' four eligible players who didn't reach an agreement before numbers were exchanged, Ethier is seeking $3.75 million while the club filed at $2.65 million. While the relatively late hearing date seems to suggest the sides have plenty of time to reach an agreement, there isn't believed to have been any significant progress in negotiations thus far.

--C Brad Ausmus finalized his one-year contract with the Dodgers. Ausmus, who will be Russell Martin's backup, will receive a base salary of $1 million. He also will receive $25,000 for each of 150, 175, 200, 225, 250 and 300 plate appearances, $50,000 each for 350 and 400 plate appearances and $100,000 for 450 plate appearances.

--RHP Tanyon Sturtze signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers, but he isn't expected to seriously challenge for a roster spot. Sturtze came to camp with the Dodgers last season but spent most of the year in the minors and made just three big-league appearances before being designated for assignment in late August. He stayed with the club the rest of the season as a third bullpen catcher and unofficial assistant bullpen coach.

--C Russell Martin, whose full name is Russell Nathan Jeanson Coltrane Martin, will now go by the name Russell J. Martin. Jeanson is Martin's mother's maiden name, and he is making the change as a tribute to her. He reportedly will wear "J. Martin" on the back of his jersey.

--LHP Clayton Kershaw, who initially wasn't even invited to big-league camp last spring, will be a mainstay in the Dodgers' rotation this year, no matter who else signs with the club. Kershaw voluntarily took part in the club's annual winter development program for rookies and top prospects earlier this month, and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said he looked strong, healthy and ready to go. Kershaw will turn 21 on March 19.

By The Numb3rs: $8 million -- The money the Dodgers paid to Randy Wolf in 2007, when the veteran left-hander made 18 starts before what was believed to be a minor shoulder problem ended his season on July 4. The injury eventually required surgery. The money included a $7 million base salary, a $500,000 signing bonus and a $500,000 buyout of Wolf's $9 million club option for 2008. In the Dodgers' search for a starting pitcher, Wolf is now at the top of their list.

Note to Quote: "I'm going to tell you something right now, if Manny Ramirez doesn't sign with us, we are in deep trouble. Deep, deep, deep trouble. He adds so much to our lineup because we have a young team. He just makes our lineup so much stronger. ... I'll take Manny knowing what I know about him. I'll take him in our lineup, because we would be lost without him." --Dodgers third base coach Larry Bowa to WFAN Radio in New York.

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