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L.A. fills out staff, turns attention to free agents

LOS ANGELES -- New manager Joe Torre and the Los Angeles Dodgers completed their coaching staff Friday, retaining pitching
coach Rick Honeycutt and first-base coach Mariano Duncan, hiring
Bob Schaefer as bench coach and promoting Ken Howell to bullpen
coach.

In addition, the team hired Rick Ragazzo as special assistant to
the general manager.

Torre announced at his introductory news conference Nov. 5 that
Don Mattingly would be the hitting coach and Larry Bowa the
third-base coach. Both were members of Torre's staff with the New York Yankees last year.

"Joe and I are very encouraged and confident that this group
along with Don Mattingly and Larry Bowa will comprise a tremendous
staff," general manager Ned Colletti said on a conference call.
"We've got a lot of work ahead of us, especially with the younger
players.

"Joe and I spent a lot of time going through this. They're here
for a reason, they're here for their expertise. I'm glad we have
who we have and encouraged we have a great group."

Colletti also said Manny Mota will return for a 29th season on
the staff, and Rob Flippo will come back as bullpen catcher.

Torre said the only people he interviewed for coaching positions
were the ones that were hired.

Meanwhile, Torre said he's had some time to familiarize himself
with the Dodgers' roster.

"I don't know if there are any gaping holes," he said. "I
don't feel like we have to do any overhaul."

Colletti said the Dodgers have contacted a number of free-agent
players, but didn't identify them.

"Some of them would be in and around the middle-of-the-order
player," he said. "We're still in the early process of it."

He said there have been some trade conversations as well,
adding: "We thought we had a deal the other day with somebody and
they got cold feet at the end."

When asked specifically about free-agent center fielders Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones and Aaron Rowand, Colletti replied: "They're
all good players. We're curious to know what their interest is in
playing here and what it would take to get them here."

If they bring in a center fielder, the Dodgers presumably would
move Juan Pierre to left. Pierre signed a five-year, $44 million
contract last winter.

The 53-year-old Honeycutt and the 44-year-old Duncan were
members of manager Grady Little's coaching staff with the Dodgers
the past two years.

Duncan played for Torre with the Yankees in 1996, and made an
impression.

"If there was something that happened on the field he didn't
like, he let people know about it," Torre said.

The 62-year-old Schaefer was the Oakland Athletics' bench coach
last season after spending 2006 as a special assistant to the
general manager in Atlanta.

The 46-year-old Howell will be on a big-league coaching staff
for the first time after spending the last six seasons as a minor
league pitching coach in the Dodgers' organization.

Ragazzo spent the past 17 seasons in the Giants' organization --
11 as their director of international operations.