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Notes: McCourt vows to stay the course

Notes: McCourt vows to stay the course

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LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said Sunday that general manager Ned Colletti and field manager Grady Little would return for the 2008 season.

McCourt, expressing disappointment with the club's fourth-place finish for the second time in the last three years, nonetheless said the youth movement on the field will continue.

"The future is very bright," he said before Sunday's season finale with the Giants. "We have a core group, a nucleus, a foundation. You need to have a plan and stick with it. Now is the time to stick with the plan and not be impulsive. We're getting closer."

McCourt said Colletti and Little "share the values and share the goals" of restoring the franchise's winning culture through "trust, respect, unselfishness, teamwork." He called the 2007 season "a missed opportunity," but not a sign that the strategy is flawed.

"I'm very optimistic and confident about the future and very resolute that we're on the right track," he said. "We've put a foundation in place that will serve the organization well for years to come. We're building an organization that stands for something. It's not me sitting here with rhetoric."

Addressing clubhouse turmoil in general and second baseman Jeff Kent's comments in particular, McCourt said:

"I never think it's a good idea to take private matters and bring them outside. But I also understand the frustration. Everybody wants to win."

Until Sunday, McCourt had been silent on the club's on-the-field deterioration in his fourth season at the helm. He said meetings would soon be held with his management team to address problems.

"We need to do better," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if there are changes. We will get together in a week to reflect on what went right and what went wrong and address those things we can be better at and do better at."

He said the organization will continue investing in the scouting and development department, but is willing to spend money for the right players. The club payroll this year was around $120 million, highest in the division.

"If you can guarantee me that we'll cut payroll and win, I'll cut payroll," he said. "If you can guarantee me that we'll increase payroll and win, we'll increase. When you look at the teams ahead of us and look at the payrolls, there's not a correlation."

McCourt said the club will spend $70 million to $80 million on the upcoming renovation phase of Dodger Stadium to upgrade the concessions and concourses and that he "expected [ticket] prices will go up," but they haven't been finalized.

Addressing the signing of free-agent pitcher Jason Schmidt, who won only one game before requiring season-ending shoulder surgery, McCourt said:

"If we had been cavalier and didn't do due diligence, shame on us. All of the due diligence was done. It was a decision Ned made and I supported and it didn't work out. This team will benefit from that signing."

On the injury front: Trainer Stan Conte said Rafael Furcal has an MRI on his troublesome left ankle scheduled for Monday and Tony Abreu will be examined by a Philadelphia specialist in sports hernias Tuesday.

Furcal is responding to treatment for a slight bulging disk in his back, but the MRI is to rule out the need for surgery.

Abreu might need surgery for persistent lower abdominal pain, an injury that has led the players' union to file a grievance claiming the Dodgers sent him to the Minor Leagues with knowledge that he was injured. The player is seeking the difference in his Minor League and Major League salary for the time he spent on the Triple-A roster.

Jason Schmidt continues to improve without setback from shoulder surgery, but is not likely to begin throwing until November. Hong-Chih Kuo has resumed throwing in his recovery from a fourth elbow operation. Yhency Brazoban is healing from shoulder surgery, and Chin-hui Tsao is improved after a season-ending shoulder injury.

Sunday's lineup: Little went with the young lineup for the season finale, with 30-year-old Juan Pierre the oldest Dodgers starter and six of the nine having spent some time this year at Triple-A Las Vegas.

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

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