Torre takes Dodgers' job; Mattingly, Bowa coming with him
LOS ANGELES -- Standing on a center-field stage at Dodger Stadium, Joe Torre pulled on his new cap and jersey for the first time Monday as the sun peeked through an overcast sky.
"I hope it stays out," Torre said with a smile, presumably speaking figuratively as well as literally.
Only minutes earlier, the ballpark was shrouded in fog, similar to the past 19 seasons for one of baseball's most storied franchises. Los Angeles has one playoff victory since winning the 1988 World Series, but its new manager hopes to change that.
"The expectations are high here," said Torre, who rejected a one-year offer to stay with the New York Yankees last month. "I think we're going to make everybody proud of the product we put on the field."
Flanked by Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda and broadcasting great Vin Scully, Torre received a lavish welcome to the Dodgers' family and immediately paid tribute to their winning tradition.
"I didn't sleep all night," he said. "It's just a great feeling to be here. This is one of a handful of organizations you automatically say yes to."
But he also pointed out he'll have a lot to learn in his new job.
"I don't know my team, obviously," said Torre, who replaces Grady Little in the Dodgers' dugout. "I've been in the American League the last 12 years."
The 67-year-old Torre won big in New York, guiding the Yankees to four World Series championships, six AL pennants and playoff appearances in all 12 years as their manager. He becomes the second person to manage the Yankees and Dodgers, joining Casey Stengel.
Torre grew up in Brooklyn when it was home to the Dodgers. But he rooted for the rival New York Giants, a fact he apologized for right away Monday.
"You look at this uniform, I remember when it was Brooklyn," Torre said while looking down at his No. 6, the same number he wore in New York. "These things are very vivid to me. Carl Furillo wore No. 6. There was a certain pride factor that I associated with this organization."
Torre said Don Mattingly and Larry Bowa will accompany him from New York as two members of his coaching staff in Los Angeles. Mattingly lost out to Joe Girardi for the Yankees' managerial job.
Mattingly may be the team's hitting coach, according to a source cited by 1050 ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand.
Mattingly was the Yankees' bench coach under Torre last season. He was the hitting coach for three seasons before that.
Bowa told Marchand that he'll be with the Dodgers, either as Torre's bench coach or third base coach. He was the Yankees' third-base coach last season.
Bowa had been rumored to be ticketed for a coaching position with the Seattle Mariners.
Little quit as manager of the Dodgers last week. Now, Torre takes over an underachieving team that finished fourth in the NL West this season with an 82-80 record.
The Dodgers have made the playoffs only four times since their most recent World Series triumph, and there was trouble in the clubhouse late this season between older and younger players.
"We go in, we're all wearing the same uniform," Torre said. "That's how I feel. I have a sense we're all going to pull in the same direction. My job as a manager, it's all about communication. It's listening to players, try to understand, make sense. That's my job, to make sure we have a direction to go in.
"I just do the best I can and that's all I ask of my players."
Brad Penny, a 16-game winner for the Dodgers this year, thinks people are making too much of the clubhouse problems.
"We were getting along great for five months. I was there, it wasn't that bad," Penny said. "It wasn't Grady's fault. For whatever reason, we weren't good enough to make it."
That said, Penny praised the hiring of Torre, baseball's career leader in postseason victories with 76. He ranks eighth on the regular-season wins list with a 2,067-1,770 record.
"I think it's great for the team and the city," Penny said. "There's a buzz in the city. He knows a lot about the game. When he talks, you're going to listen. Going into the spring, everyone's going to be excited. He probably has a pretty good idea of what we need, who to put where. We're going to need some help."
General manager Ned Colletti said the Dodgers could use some pitching help and a middle-of-the-order bat. The latter describes Alex Rodriguez perfectly, but whether his contract demands can be met is another story.
"Of course we'd love to have A-Rod," Penny said. "He's really, really expensive. Do you get A-Rod or two players?"
Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, announced his client was opting out of the final three years of his contract with the Yankees on Oct. 28, during Game 4 of the World Series.
Torre said he had a good relationship with Rodriguez in New York.
"This has happened so quickly, we haven't had time to talk about it," Torre said. "I think he's comfortable, I'm comfortable. I'm sure Alex Rodriguez is going to do what's best for his family."
Colletti said he hadn't spoken with Boras for months.
"We'll have to see if they have an interest in being here," Colletti said. "I don't know if they do. It will have to make sense."
Torre agreed to a three-year, $13 million deal with the Dodgers last Thursday -- exactly two weeks after walking away from the Yankees when they offered a one-year contract with a $5 million salary plus $3 million in performance bonuses that Torre termed "an insult."
"Wow! This has been wild here. The last two weeks have been a whirlwind," he said Monday. "You say goodbye to one prestigious organization and you say hello to another.
"This is surreal for me. It's been an emotional roller-coaster for my family over the last couple of weeks with everything that's gone on."
He'll manage the Dodgers during their 50th anniversary season in Los Angeles and return to the National League for the first time since 1995, when the St. Louis Cardinals replaced him with Tony La Russa. Torre also managed the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves.
"When I think of the Dodgers I think of efficiency, I think of pride, I think of measuring stick," Torre said. "You always measured yourself by the Dodgers because they did everything right. They had a stature that you always looked up to."
Scully, who moved with the team from Brooklyn, delivered the opening remarks for a news conference held in center field to accommodate the overload of media, a first according to team spokesman Josh Rawitch.
The Dodgers said 190 media members signed in for the event, including three from New York newspapers. The number attending, including Dodgers employees and others, was more than 250.
Sitting on stage with Torre were team owners Frank and Jamie McCourt, Colletti and Lasorda, who managed the Dodgers from 1977-96 and is now an adviser to McCourt.
"What impresses me most about this gentleman is he has done it both on and off the field," McCourt said, ticking off Torre's accomplishments with the Yankees. "He leads and he wins."
Torre walked to center field arm-in-arm with his wife, Ali.
"I've been with him for 26 years and I know his love and passion for the game, and after being with him at home for a couple of weeks, I was so happy that he is able to get back into the game," she said. "It truly is his passion. And I didn't know what I was going to do with him, actually."
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report
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