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Wolf leaves Phillies to sign with hometown Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- Left-hander Randy Wolf couldn't pass up the
opportunity to come home.

Wolf, who spent much of last season recovering from elbow
surgery, finalized an $8 million, one-year contract with the Los
Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.

"I don't know how many times I'll have that option," Wolf
said. "I couldn't pass that up. I'm happy with the way things
turned out."

Wolf grew up in suburban West Hills and appeared in the Los
Angeles City Section championship games at Dodger Stadium for El
Camino Real High in 1993-94.

"I'm very happy that Randy's decided to stay home and pitch for
the Dodgers," general manager Ned Colletti said during a
conference call. "We believe in him as a pitcher, knowing he's a
quality left-hander. He went through a tough period for a couple
years with his elbow. We're thrilled that somebody with his makeup
and his character and his competitiveness will be a part of the
Dodgers."

The 30-year-old Wolf will earn $7.5 million next year, and the
Dodgers have a $9 million option for 2008 with a $500,000 buyout.
His 2008 salary would become guaranteed if he pitches 180 innings
next season.

"In my mind, if I'm healthy, it's going to be a two-year
contract," Wolf said. "I could have gone to the highest bidder.
To me, going to the highest bidder wasn't the most important
thing."

Wolf said his first memory of Dodger Stadium was in 1984, when
his cousin played in the Olympics.

"I just remember going to Dodger Stadium with my family," he
said. "There's so many collective memories going to Dodger
Stadium. I think the first time I step on that mound as a Dodger,
there's definitely going to be a whole bunch of emotions going on.
It's going to be pretty special."

Wolf, who underwent elbow ligament-replacement surgery in July
2005, came off the disabled list last July 31 and went 4-0 with a
5.56 ERA in 12 starts for the Philadelphia Phillies, pitching 56
2/3 innings.

"There were a couple games last year where I knew I was really
back as far as strength and ready to go," he said. "As far as
strength and velocity and things like that, I felt better than I
had in I don't know how long. My command would be there and then
not be there.

"You're not going to just forget how to throw a curveball for a
strike. You just have to be patient. It drives me nuts, but
everybody says the second year [after surgery] you're going to be
great."

Wolf was 69-60 in eight seasons with the Phillies, who selected
him in the second round of the 1997 amateur draft out of Pepperdine
in nearby Malibu. The Dodgers drafted Wolf out of high school, but
he didn't sign, instead deciding to attend Pepperdine.

Wolf won 48 games and pitched at least 200 innings three times
from 2000-03, and was an NL All-Star in 2003, when he won a
career-high 16 games. But he began feeling elbow pain the following
season and was limited to 136 2/3 innings. He made 13 starts in
2005 before undergoing surgery.

He could be the Dodgers' No. 4 starter, behind right-handers
Derek Lowe, Brad Penny and Chad Billingsley. The team also might
try to sign another established starter.

Wolf said he had a difficult time deciding to leave the
Phillies.

"They were competitive with any offer out there, they were very
aggressive," he said. "It was just a matter of the right
opportunity. To me, it wasn't about trying to get the most money."

Los Angeles also agreed to terms with Matt J. White on a minor
league contract. The 29-year-old left-hander was drafted in the
15th round by the Cleveland Indians in 1998 and also was a member
of the Boston, Seattle, Colorado and Washington organizations. He
pitched in six big league games in 2003 and one in 2005.