Dick Freeman relieved of duties

LOS ANGELES -- A former baseball executive appointed by commissioner Bud Selig to help oversee the troubled Los Angeles Dodgers was relieved of his duties after it was discovered he was a paid consultant last year to ex-team CEO Jamie McCourt, an attorney for Frank McCourt wrote Tuesday.

In the letter to a New York law firm that represents Major League Baseball, lawyer Robert Sacks notes Dick Freeman was introduced Monday to Dodgers employees and reviewed confidential financial documents before leaving Dodger Stadium and informing Major League Baseball of a conflict of interest.

"Unfortunately, this latest episode reinforces the concern that Mr. McCourt is apparently being subjected to discriminatory and unfair treatment through a process designed to reach a predetermined outcome, without appropriate diligence, independence or care," Sacks wrote.

Selig announced Freeman's appointment Monday on a radio show and sent a letter to Frank McCourt that arrived Tuesday about his decision. McCourt was unaware of Freeman's appointment until he received Selig's letter.

Freeman informed MLB later in the day that he could no longer assume the role to assist former Texas Rangers president Tom Schieffer monitor the Dodgers' daily operations.

"It was brought to our attention and as soon as it came to light it was addressed," said MLB spokesman Michael Teevan.

Schieffer was appointed last month by Selig after questions arose about the team's finances. Baseball officials believe the Dodgers do not have enough money to make their May 31 major league player payroll of about $8.25 million. Frank McCourt recently took out a $30 million loan from Fox, the team's television partner.

McCourt has urged MLB's approval of a 17-year television deal with Fox that could be worth more than $3 billion. He has said he would take out $300 million and put it into the Dodgers.

He and his ex-wife have been embroiled in a contentious and costly divorce for nearly two years. A judge in December threw out a 2004 marital property agreement that gave Frank McCourt sole ownership of the Dodgers, clearing the way for Jamie McCourt to seek half the team.

Matthew Hiltzik, a spokesman for Jamie McCourt, declined to comment.

Freeman worked for the Padres from 1981-95, rising to team president. He became chief operating officer of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1996 after Kevin McClatchy bought the team, then returned to the Padres, where he was president again from 2002-04. He then added the title of CEO only to be dropped to chief operating officer when Sandy Alderson was hired in 2006.