Dodgers' GM search postponed
By Peter Gammons
Special to ESPN.com
DIAMOND NOTES: April 28
The Dodgers' search for a GM was postponed for a few days as Bob Daly, Dave Wallace and the rest of the staff went through names, but the calls could start Monday. Their preliminary list contains names that have been out there, like Cleveland general manager John Hart and Mets senior assistant GM Jim Duquette, if the latter can get out of his Mets deal, as expected. They are expected to interview Blue Jays assistant GM Dave Stewart and Omar Minaya, senior assistant GM of the Mets. Dan Evans has had a great deal of support, as has Ned Colletti. There have been reports of a possible call to Houston for Gerry Hunsicker or one to Oakland on Billy Beane, although neither is expected to be free to interview.
One interesting name that two sources indicate is on the list is Red Sox GM Dan Duquette, possibly on the recommendation of Tommy Lasorda, and contrary to news reports, Duquette still has not finalized his three-year extension with Boston owner John Harrington. But the timing problem excludes any established GM, and anyway, there have been so many changes in that organization over the last few years to try another overhaul this winter might set them back another year or two.
Understand that when Daly says he doesn't have to hire stars, he means it. This is a man who knows what it takes to work his way to the top, as he started in the mail room at CBS.
The dot.com crash has hurt the sale of the Red Sox, and a source close to the sale indicates that there are five groups presently in line to bid, and the local group headed by Joe O'Donnell and Steve Karp is "clearly the favorite at this point because they can raise the money and they can get the ballpark built where it makes sense because they are the two best-liked and respected businessmen in the city."
They also have the backing of President George W. Bush. But with the economy fluctuating, the ballpark issue is in big trouble and with the labor agreement on the horizon, Harrington has indicated to some partners that he may wait until after the labor deal is done, and also he badly wants to see the Red Sox win it all.
"If they don't make it this year," says an owner, "he's going to be tempted to try to stay around and do it next year".
The Red Sox have an interesting decision to make in the next two weeks as John Valentin comes back off rehab. Rookie Shea Hillenbrand has clearly won the heart and respect of both Jimy Williams and Duquette, and while Valentin appears to be swinging the bat well, one scout who watched him play at Triple-A Pawtucket says, "He plays the field with a noticeable limp, and he's going to have problems going two steps to either side." Duquette would like Valentin to play longer than the 20-day period in the minors, but Valentin isn't going for that. So if Hillenbrand continues to hit .300, Duquette is going to see if there are any interested takers in Valentin, and apparently has already broached the subject to the Mariners.
Hillenbrand, meanwhile, works his behind off. But he is different. If one looks at his 17 walks in Double-A last season, one would think he'd have no chance in the majors, but he has hit and done so in the clutch while swinging at everything. "He does swing at everything and anything," says an advance scout. "But he gets the barrel of the bat on pitches out of the strike zone. He's amazing."
One of the big surprises has been how far Marty Cordova has come back with the Indians, the result of losing 20 pounds of muscle by stopping training with weights and going to aerobic and other training exercises.
Speaking of comebacks, Raul Mondesi looks like the Raul Mondesi he promised to be back in '95 with the Dodgers. After having his elbow operated on last August, he has far better extension in hitting the ball, and his throwing arm is back to where it was six years ago.
The Expos have been shopping for a catcher, as Michael Barrett's progress hasn't been what they expected it would be thus far.
One scouting report on Yankee prospect Nick Johnson: "We all know he's got the great hitting mechanics and eye and he's also got 35-homer power. And he's going to win a Gold Glove at first base. Bank on it."
The Mets, D-Backs and Red Sox were among the teams who went to Rancho Cuchamonga Thursday night to see Sterling Hitchcock, but his velocity is still in the 83-84 mph range, he has sone stiffness in his forearm and he's a few weeks off from being ready to be dealt to a contender.
Colorado GM Dan O'Dowd is so ecstatic about the adjustments made by Todd Hollandsworth, thanks in large part to the guidance he's gotten from Rockies hitting instructor Clint Hurdle, that he says, "(Todd) has improved so much and played so well he could be our Jim Edmonds. Really. He's that kind of player." Which begs the question, why isn't he playing center field in L.A.?
One good, reliable middle reliever who could be available come July is Milwaukee's David Weathers, who will be a free agent at the end of the year and in today's reliever market, especially with the prices paid by the Phillies in the offseason, could be looking for $2 million per year. That's a pricetag a team like the Brewers likely won't be able to afford.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia on David Eckstein: "He gets on base, he does little things to make up for a little shortness in his throwing arm, he knows how to play and thinks only about winning. He's a special kid." But the Angels ideally would still love to find a regular shortstop and let Eckstein split time between second and short.
The Mets put pitcher Brian Rose on waivers right before they found out that Al Leiter had elbow problems, so they are now short a starter. The Mets front office still thinks Rose will become a winning starting pitcher, but the Devil Rays were the only team to put in a waiver claim on the 24-year-old pitcher and thus got him.
Jaret Wright and Charles Nagy begin their rehabs this week. Wright's delivery, curveball and changeup have been better than ever before in extended spring, so even if he doesn't go back to throwing in the mid-90s, he may be a better pitcher than at any time since he was out there starting Game 7 of the '97 World Series.
A couple of teams have begun looking at Tony Clark, knowing that the Tigers are a mess and might consider trading him.
Adrian Beltre is back within 7-10 pounds of his playing weight and should start his rehab this week and could be back at third base for the Dodgers by May 15. One night this week the Dodgers had Phil Hiatt playing third base and Chris Donnels at first ... and won the game.
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