02/18/09 6:38 PM EST
Dodgers talking to free agent Hudson
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Well, sort of. He said he doesn't expect to manage beyond 2010, the final year of his three-year contract with the Dodgers.
"I don't envision going beyond this contract managing," said Torre, 68.
In the meantime, there's work to do. On Thursday at Camelback Ranch-Glendale, he will oversee what is being called by the Dodgers their first "full-squad workout" -- but is it?
Position players are requested to join the pitchers and catchers already in camp, but Manny Ramirez won't be there as his contract talks continue indefinitely. And general manager Ned Colletti confirmed Wednesday that he's also talking to free-agent second baseman Orlando Hudson, who has slashed his asking price in the wake of a free-agent market crash.
The Dodgers, who had a $120 million payroll in 2008, have $75 million committed to 14 current players under 2009 contracts (plus Andruw Jones). Colletti said the interest in Hudson is not impacted by what happens to Ramirez.
"Right now, I have some flexibility," he said, sounding optimistic about an addition. He also hasn't ruled out acquiring a veteran reliever like Joe Beimel, Dennys Reyes or even Jason Isringhausen.
Hudson is a three-time Gold Glove and 2007 All-Star second baseman who missed the last two months of the 2008 season after suffering a broken wrist playing for Arizona. He reportedly sought a multiyear deal worth $10 million annually, but that's not happening in the current market.
Colletti said a pursuit of Hudson was not a reflection on Blake DeWitt, the assumed replacement for Jeff Kent at second base. If the Dodgers sign Hudson and not Ramirez, DeWitt could move to third base and Casey Blake to left field.
"I'm big on inventory," said Colletti. "You never have enough good players."
For example, earlier in the day, Torre said that Cory Wade, the unsung rookie workhorse of last year's bullpen, already had a sore shoulder that required a cortisone injection and he would be sidelined a few days. Torre downplayed the severity, saying Wade didn't require an MRI.
But the discomfort when he brings his arm back is in the same place as last year, when he spent 15 days in August on the disabled list. Torre said the club will be cautious with Wade, as well as left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo, whose 2008 season was his 10th in the organization but also his healthiest.
Trying to duplicate that, Torre said Kuo will be handled gingerly this Spring.
"We'll go very slow and take our time and walk before we run," said Torre. "He's healthy and I don't want to overwork him. We can't just put him in with the rest of the guys, we have to make sure not to ask him to do a lot in spring. He doesn't have to prove anything to anyone. I've got as much confidence in him as anybody, but we have to be careful about his workload. Looking at his history, there's only so many throws in that arm on a yearly basis. We have to control that."
A year ago, said Torre, all he knew about Kuo was that he had four elbow operations (two Tommy John reconstructions) and was out of options. Then he watched him win MLB.com's award for best setup man, leading NL relievers with a 1.68 ERA. He wore down in September, missed the first round of the playoffs, but pitched in three games of the NL Championship Series.
Torre said he will address the club before Thursday's practice. He said his most productive address last year came when he called the young nucleus of his club into a meeting in his office just before the pivotal weekend series in Arizona that turned the season around. Among those attending were Russell Martin, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Jonathan Broxton and James Loney. Chad Billingsley wasn't included in the meeting because he was that night's starting pitcher.
"I let them know it was going to be [their] ballclub," said Torre. "We had to make a statement and we did. They may have been a little timid as far as leadership. I just let them know you guys are the future of the organization. It was no slight to anybody else, but I told them they have the ability to be the foundation."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.