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Dodgers, Torre having conversations, but no deal in place

LOS ANGELES -- General manager Ned Colletti acknowledged
Wednesday he had spoken with Joe Torre about managing the
Los Angeles Dodgers.

While Colletti insisted they had not agreed on a contract, he
indicated the former New York Yankees manager was the leading
candidate to replace Grady Little, who resigned on Tuesday.

"We've had some conversations with him very recently,"
Colletti said. "Certainly as you look at his resume and what he's
done and the market he's done it in, you've certainly got to start
there."

Having said that, Colletti was quick to point out that other
candidates were also being considered.

"We're talking about a number of people," Colletti said.
"We're crossing off names. It may be a very short list."

Teams are generally directed to interview at least one minority
candidate for open managerial jobs, but the Dodgers were granted an
exemption in this case by commissioner Bud Selig.

"The Dodgers have a great record on minority hiring throughout
the organization," baseball spokesman Rich Levin said.

By any reasonable gauge, Torre's name is at the top of the
Dodgers' list. However, when asked whether the parties had
discussed money and if they were close to a deal, Colletti
retreated.

"We have interest," he said. "It may be mutual, that's really
a question for the other side.

"I don't categorize anything as close, far. It's either done or
it's not done. We're still trying to learn about each other.
There's been some light discussions to try and get a feel. I'm not
going to get into where the negotiations are. It's still early in
the process in some ways."

Torre's agent, Maury Gostfrand, declined comment Wednesday.

Soon after Little resigned Tuesday, published reports said Torre
and the Dodgers had already reached a deal, some claiming he had
agreed in principle to a three-year contract worth $14.5 million.

"I've watched stuff in the last 72 hours that I can't believe
I'm watching," Colletti said. "I can tell you we do not have an
agreement. I've seen more inaccuracy than I can ever remember."

Still, it would be a surprise at this stage if Torre doesn't
follow in the footsteps of Hall of Famers Walter Alston and Tom
Lasorda in what would likely be the final chapter of his own Hall
of Fame career.

Colletti acknowledged the buzz surrounding Torre might cause
other potential candidates to decline to be interviewed.

"That's certainly a factor," Colletti said. "I believe it
will play a role."

The 67-year-old Torre, who managed the Yankees to four World
Series titles and 12 playoff appearances in 12 seasons, completed a
$19.2 million, three-year contract this year. He ranks eighth on
baseball's career list with 2,067 victories and has won a record 76
postseason games.

On Oct. 18, Torre rejected a $5 million, one-year offer from the
Yankees with an additional $3 million in performance bonuses. He
earned $7.5 million this season, by far the most of any manager.

Colletti said he sensed Little was leaning toward stepping down,
so he began discussing the job recently with potential
replacements. One of those candidates, the GM acknowledged, was Joe
Girardi, hired by the Yankees as Torre's successor earlier Tuesday.

The Dodgers entered this season as the clear-cut favorite to win
the NL West. They had the league's best record in mid-July, but
lost 11 of their last 14 games to fade out of contention, finishing
at 82-80.

Once one of baseball's glamour franchises, the Dodgers have
struggled in recent years, failing to win a single playoff series
since winning the 1988 World Series. In fact, they've won only one
playoff game since winning their sixth Series championship.

Since Lasorda stepped down during the 1996 season after
suffering a heart attack, the Dodgers are 1-9 in postseason action.
The lone victory came three years ago, when they lost to St. Louis
3-1 in an NL division series.

The Dodgers won the NL wild card in 2006, Little's first year as
their manager, but were swept by the New York Mets in the first
round of the playoffs.

Torre and his former bench coach, Don Mattingly, have discussed
the possibility of joining the Dodgers together, according to a
person with knowledge of those talks. The person spoke on condition
of anonymity because the manager's position in Los Angeles was
vacant.

"We don't have a coaching staff in mind, we haven't gotten
there," Colletti said. "We've discussed it to some extent. I
think whoever the manager is, there will have to be a comfort level
on his part and my part."

Colletti said he hadn't spoken directly with potential
managerial candidates other than Girardi and Torre personally, but
added there have been conversations with others "in a secondary
way, not directly, through other people."

"I'm not going to get into the numbers," he said.