Torre Has Unfinished Business

The biggest sign the Dodgers feel they still have some unfinished business to accomplish was seen in the actions of 69-year-old manager Joe Torre. Torre, who originally figured to retire following the 2009 season, said he had committed to a one-year extension that will take his current deal through 2011. Torre's agent, Maury Gostfrand, and the Dodgers were working on the financial details.

When the veteran manager originally signed a three-year contract to manage the Dodgers starting in the 2008 season, he only intended on managing two of those years. He structured the deal that way because he didn't want to feel like a lame-duck manager after just one year in Los Angeles.

But then the Dodgers advanced to the NL Championship Series in 2008 and 2009, Torre wanted to stick around to see what might happen next.

Even before seeing the results of the 2010 season, he wants to make sure he's around for one more year.

Make no mistake, though, Torre will manage in 2011 and then call it quits on a managerial career that will have extended 30 seasons by then. Currently he is tied with Bobby Cox for advancing to the postseason in 14 consecutive seasons.

When Torre finally steps aside, Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly is expected to take over as manager. Mattingly will manage the Dodgers this spring when Torre takes a split squad to Taiwan for games March 12-13.

WHERE: Camelback Ranch, Glendale, Ariz. Heading into its second spring, the ballpark the Dodgers share with the White Sox already leads the Cactus League in rust. Fortunately, the oxidation was part of the architect's plan.

TOP CANDIDATE TO SURPRISE: RHP Chad Billingsley had a horrible second half in 2009 and was a non-factor come playoff time. A mechanical flaw was blamed, but the 25-year old did have surgery on a broken leg the previous offseason. It's easy to forget he was an All-Star last season.

TOP CANDIDATE TO DISAPPOINT: LF Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games, slumped badly in the second half, and when the Dodgers were desperate to clinch a playoff spot, he batted .152 over his final 33 at-bats. How could it get worse? He did bat .290 last year with 19 home runs and 63 RBIs.

AUTHORITY FIGURES: Manager Joe Torre has been just what the Dodgers needed, as his teams have gone 179-145 over his first two seasons and won back-to-back NL West titles. Getting the most out of Manny Ramirez, Casey Blake, Rafael Furcal and Russell Martin will be his big challenge in 2010.

NOTES, QUOTES
--LF Matt Kemp insists that outside distractions, namely discussion of the time he's spent with singer Rihanna, will not become a distraction. "There are a lot of people that get hounded about things in their life," Kemp said. "You just find ways to deal with it and go about your business. It's not affecting my work. I'm getting my work in and plan on repeating the same season as last year and even better."

--RHP Ronald Belisario, who had a breakout rookie season in 2009, was late getting to spring training for a second consecutive season because of visa problems in his native Venezuela. "At this point in his life, he needs to worry about it more than we do," GM Ned Colleti said. "We have a lot of people in this room that can pitch." --LF Manny Ramirez announced that this would be his farewell season in Los Angeles. The free-agent-to-be doesn't expect to re-sign with the Dodgers next winter. The veteran struggled down the stretch last season and responded by doing some extra hitting this winter for the first time in his career. He also showed up to spring training a week before position players were required to report.

--SS Rafael Furcal was the Dodgers' only projected starter who didn't show up well in advance of the required reporting date for position players. Furcal, who had a below-average season in 2009, was present for the first team workout. He showed promise for 2010 by stealing six of his 12 bases in the final three weeks of the 2009 season.

--RHP Vicente Padilla described how he was accidentally shot early in the offseason, and the injury was more gruesome that originally believed. Padilla said a bullet went through his upper thigh and exited the back of his leg when a friend was trying to fix a jammed handgun. Padilla does not walk with a limp and said he had no physical restrictions.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "After I practiced, I feel like I can play five more years. I'll play three more for this team and two more in Japan. Put that in there. I want to see myself on ESPN again." -- LF Manny Ramirez, one day after saying that 2010 would be his last in Los Angeles.

BY THE NUMBERS: 7 -- Pitchers in camp whom manager Joe Torre says has a legitimate chance of earning the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Those candidates are believed to be LHP Eric Stults, RHP Charlie Haeger, RHP James McDonald, RHP Carlos Monasterios, RHP Russ Ortiz, RHP Ramon Ortiz and RHP Josh Towers.

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