09/21/10 10:45 PM ET
Dodgers can still have impact in NL West
By Evan Drellich / MLB.com
"It's really all that's left for us, to have an impact on a pennant race," manager Joe Torre said. "And in our division we're pretty lucky, because we have three of them. And again, if I'm sitting in one of those other dugouts or clubhouse now in San Francisco or Colorado, and I'm hoping we're going to play like [heck] to beat them. That's only fair."
Tuesday began with the Dodgers 11 games out behind the first-place Giants in the National League West. The Padres were a half-game back, the Rockies 1 1/2 back.
There are two Dodgers who do have a title of sorts to chase, although both say it's something they had more fun with in the past, when they had a postseason to look forward to. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier both have 23 home runs.
Ethier is the defending two-time long-ball leader on the club, with 31 in 2009 and 20 in 2008. Kemp finished second both seasons, with 26 last year and 18 the year before.
"That's the way it's always been, a fun little game: Who will lead in home runs? Who will lead in average? Who will lead in doubles?" Ethier said. "Right now it's tough just because of the situation and stuff. But we definitely [had fun] with it the last two years when we were in the race."
"Whatever happens, happens," Kemp said. "We have [had fun] with it before. We're in a different situation right now so it's not as fun."
Casey Blake, who has 15 home runs and has a locker next to Ethier, said he was going to win the title with 10 more home runs.
Said Kemp, "That's not going to happen. He can think that though."
Ethier suggested Blake attempt to collect 10 hits instead.
Torre apologizes to Manuel, rules out Mets
LOS ANGELES -- With an apology to the current Mets skipper attached, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said on Tuesday that he does not want to manage the Mets.
Mets manager Jerry Manuel was irked that Torre told ESPNNewYork.com and radio station WFAN on Monday that he would take a phone call from Mets ownership if it reached out to him about managing the club. Manuel, who's been on the hot seat all season, responded by calling Torre's integrity into question.
Torre announced last week he would not return as the Dodgers manager next season.
"Well, I apologize," Torre said Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. "And I certainly -- he's right that I shouldn't have, and I didn't think I did. Somebody asked me if I would take a call from [Mets owner] Fred Wilpon and I, you know, I've known Fred Wilpon forever. ... I won't be managing the Mets."
Torre was in New York on Monday for the unveiling ceremony of a monument to George Steinbrenner, the Yankees' owner who passed away in July, and whom Torre won four championships under in 12 seasons. The relationship Torre established with Yankees fans in that time is what he said would keep him from the rival Mets.
"It's something I regret doing, if I knew I was doing it at the time. It was never intended," Torre said. "When I said I'd take a call from Fred Wilpon, I had no intention of making people believe I wanted to manage the Mets. I think people tend to forget that I spent 12 years with the Yankees and formed a relationship with their fans. To move across the water would all of a sudden make them mad at me."
Torre joked that the adoration held for him in New York, too, would rule him out from poaching Terry Francona's job with the Red Sox as well. Still, for his belief that he likely won't be managing again, he continues to leave the possibility open generally.
"I'm closing the door on managing the Mets, and probably everybody else," Torre said. "I don't want to mislead anybody, and my intention when I leave here as the manager, that last Sunday, I'm anticipating that'll be my last game as manager. But I don't want to go out here and say, 'I'm definitely not doing this, that and the other thing,' aside from the Mets quote."
Torre began his managerial career with the Mets in 1977. He spent six years with the team before taking over the Braves, the Cardinals and then the Yankees in 1996.
Torre said he will meet with Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti in October to discuss a potential role in-house.
Return to Bronx 'emotional' for Torre
LOS ANGELES -- He was in awe at the size of the Yankees clubhouse, how it stretched into right field with the built-in "iPad screens" at every locker station. He buried the hatchet with general manager Brian Cashman after a book came between them, and he met with the family of his old boss, George Steinbrenner. And Joe Torre was emotional to say the least when, while dining in the in-stadium steakhouse, he received a standing ovation.
Torre had his homecoming at the new Yankee Stadium on Monday, his first visit to with the club not only since it moved into its new home last season, but since he left after the 2007 season.
"We walked through just about everywhere in that stadium," Torre said. "Then you wound up down in the clubhouse, you see [Joe] Girardi. People are all of a sudden coming up behind you and grabbing you and stuff. It was emotional. it was great, it was great to be back there."
Torre and Don Mattingly were both at the unveiling ceremony of a monument to Steinbrenner, who passed away in July. Torre nearly returned to the Bronx on a previous occasion, but his relationship with the organization had been generally strained after contract negotiations fell apart after the 2007 season. The Yankees offered an incentive-laden deal, and Torre, insulted, went to the Dodgers.
Then there was The Yankee Years, the 2009 book Torre co-authored with Tom Verducci, that bothered at least two core Yankees, Alex Rodriguez and Cashman. Torre and Cashman spoke in private on Monday, and Torre said the conversation went "fine."
"As I said, we talked it out," Torre said. "He told me what things in the book that concerned him and I just tried to explain again. And maybe I don't do a good job of explaining, [in the book] I just tried to relive my emotions for those 12 years. Some of those things he didn't agree with, which I'm not changing -- it's OK not to agree with. For the most part, our relationship there ... [was] very productive and successful."
Torre said the loudest on-field ovation he heard on Tuesday was for his replacement as manager in Los Angeles, Mattingly. Mattingly was passed over as Torre's replacement in New York for Girardi.
Rod Barajas, acquired by the Dodgers from the Mets, has played for both Joe Torre and Mets manager Jerry Manuel this season. His inclination was that Torre had no intent with the statement about taking a phone call from the Mets if they called about managing the club. "He just answered a question." ... Russell Martin is likely to manage the Dodgers' third-to-last game of the season. Torre plans to let someone else manage on Saturday as well. Torre said both days are pending the permission of the D-backs (their opponent) and umpires. ... None of the four Dodgers who are out for the season with injuries is looking at surgery this offseason as it stands now, trainer Stan Conte said Tuesday. That's Martin (right hip socket fracture), Vicente Padilla (bulging disk in neck, right elbow soreness), Scott Podsednik (plantar fasciitis in his left foot) and Travis Schlichting (right shoulder strain). Martin has begun an exercise routine but is still weeks away from running.
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.