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With Little out as Dodgers' manager, Torre top candidate to replace him

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.'

Colletti said he was aware of baseball's directive regarding minorities being interviewed for open managerial jobs but wouldn't say whether the Dodgers would honor the request.

'We're taking it into consideration. We'll see how things go,' he said. 'I'd rather look at what we've done. What we've done speaks well. I think it's pretty indicative of a thorough thought process.'

By any reasonable gauge, Torre's name is at the top of the Dodgers' list of candidates. 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.

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.'