Skinner, Furcal on Dodgers' radar

Skinner, Furcal on Dodgers' radar

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' list of managerial candidates grew to five Tuesday when they were granted permission to speak with Cleveland Indians third-base coach Joel Skinner.

Meanwhile, on the player front, ESPN.com reported that the Dodgers would meet Tuesday night with the agent for free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal. According to the report, Furcal has narrowed down the field of suitors to his original team, Atlanta, the Cubs and the Dodgers.

He or his representatives have already met with the Braves and Cubs and he is expected to sign before the Winter Meetings begin Sunday in Dallas.

The Dodgers' interest in Furcal appears to be motivated mostly by the need for a leadoff hitter. However, while incumbent shortstop Cesar Izturis is an All-Star and former Gold Glove winner, he also is recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction and is expected to be sidelined until the All-Star break.

Furcal hit .284 with 46 stolen bases and 100 runs scored in 2005.

Skinner, 44, has been on the Indians' staff for five seasons and served as interim manager the second half of the 2002 season after Charlie Manuel was dismissed. His record as manager was 35-41. Skinner managed for six years in the Indians' farm system and was the Baseball America and The Sporting News Minor League manager of the year in 2000 with Buffalo after a nine-year career as a Major League catcher.

Skinner joins the list of previously confirmed candidates: Jim Fregosi, special scout with Atlanta; John McLaren, former bench coach of the Devil Rays, Grady Little, former manager of the Red Sox; and Manny Acta, third-base coach of the Mets.

Fregosi, 63, has managed four teams (including the Angels) over 15 seasons in the Major Leagues, taking the Phillies to the World Series in 1993. He last managed Toronto in 1999-2000 and has been a special-assignment scout with Atlanta for the last three years. Prior to that, he worked with Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti in San Francisco as special assistant to the GM.

McLaren, 54, had been on former Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella's Major League coaching staffs for 14 years, the last seven as bench coach and right-hand man, four with Seattle and the last three in Tampa Bay.

He has 36 years' experience in professional baseball as a Minor League catcher, coach and manager (430-483 in Toronto's system), Major League coach, Winter League manager (nine seasons in Colombia and Venezuela) and scout. In addition to Tampa Bay (Joe Maddon got the job), McLaren has interviewed with the Seattle Mariners (Bob Melvin was hired) and the Cincinnati Reds (Dave Miley). He never played in the Major Leagues.

Little, 55, is currently a roving catching instructor with the Cubs, joining the club in 2004 as a scouting consultant and assistant to general manager Jim Hendry. He is better known for managing the Red Sox to an impressive 188-136 record in 2002-03 and a Game 7 loss to the New York Yankees in the 2003 American League Championship Series. Little was replaced after the season by Terry Francona, who won the World Series the following year. Little's 93 wins in 2002 were the most by a rookie manager since Jim Frey won 97 games with Kansas City in 1980. Before taking over the Red Sox, Little served on Major League coaching staffs with the Red Sox, Padres and Indians. The former Minor League catcher managed 16 years in the Minor Leagues, 10 in the Atlanta Braves organization.

Acta, 36, joined the Mets when Willie Randolph was hired as manager for the 2005 season. Prior to that, Acta was third-base coach for the Montreal Expos. He also managed eight seasons in the Minor Leagues for the Expos and Astros at the Class A level. The native of the Dominican Republic was an infielder in Houston's Minor League system for five years.

In addition to the five confirmed candidates, Piniella and Angels pitching coach Bud Black declined to be interviewed for the job.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.