Dodgers retain Honeycutt, Duncan

Dodgers retain Honeycutt, Duncan

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Joe Torre on Friday filled out his coaching staff, which included the return of pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and first-base coach Mariano Duncan.

Torre also will have Bob Schaefer as his bench coach, and Ken Howell will be promoted from Triple-A pitching coach to Major League bullpen coach. They join third-base coach Larry Bowa and hitting coach Don Mattingly, whose hirings were announced last week.

"Years ago, you picked cronies for your coaches, but the game's changed to the point where you wind up making friends with the coaches, but you have to hire them for the right reason," said Torre. "We've put together a good group that will work hard with a lot of positive energy."

Special coach Manny Mota is expected to return, although details have not been finalized. Bullpen catcher Rob Flippo also is expected back.

The Dodgers also confirmed reports that general manager Ned Colletti hired another link to his days as a Giants official, hiring San Francisco international scouting director Rick Ragazzo as a special assistant.

The coaching announcements mean the departure of third-base coach Rich Donnelly and bullpen coach Dan Warthen. Dave Jauss, bench coach under former manager Grady Little, had already been hired as bench coach for the Orioles. Bill Mueller, who replaced Eddie Murray as hitting coach at midseason, has returned to a front-office role.

"There's a lot of work to do with the younger players -- to get them as good as they can be," said Colletti. "Everybody was handpicked for their expertise."

Schaefer, 63, was a bench coach in Oakland last season, and he briefly served as interim manager of Kansas City after the dismissals of John Wathan and Tony Pena. Schaefer's link to the new staff is not through Torre -- as they had never met until the interview process -- but as Mattingly's first Minor League manager.

Schaefer also spent time in St. Louis, where Torre played, and they both said they were influenced by longtime Cardinals official George Kissell. Torre indicated that Schaefer's role will be that of an organizer. He already has visited Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., where he will organize Spring Training in 2008.

"I'm old school," said Schaefer, who added that it will "be pretty easy" acclimating back to National League ball after spending many recent years in the American League.

The promotion of Howell, 47, keeps him in the organization. He said at the end of the season that he would not return to Triple-A Las Vegas and would seek a Major League coaching position, not anticipating one to open in Los Angeles. A former Dodgers pitcher for five years, Howell has earned praise for his work with several of the Dodgers' young pitchers, including Chad Billingsley and Jonathan Broxton.

Honeycutt, 53, also pitched for the Dodgers during a 21-season Major League career. This will be his third season as Dodgers pitching coach, and he also received credit for the progress of young pitchers during four seasons as the organization's Minor League pitching coordinator.

Torre said it was important to retain coaches knowledgeable about the organization's pitchers. The manager said he liked Honeycutt's non-technical approach, and the fact that Honeycutt had started and relieved in the Major Leagues, as did Howell. Torre said he was also impressed that Honeycutt and Howell were familiar with position players.

"It means they reach out beyond the pitching aspect of the game," Torre said.

Duncan, 44, not only played for the Dodgers, but also for Torre on his 1996 championship Yankees club, when he was promoted from a utility role to an everyday second baseman. Duncan's duties include overseeing baserunning, and this also will be his third season as a Major League coach.

"I wanted to incorporate as many Dodgers as possible," Torre said, having already brought Bowa and Mattingly from the Yankees.

Colletti said the returning coaches bring "continuity" and "league continuity," alluding to the fact that Bowa, Mattingly and Schaefer are coming over from the AL. Torre said the only candidates he interviewed were the ones hired.

Ragazzo will be responsible for Major League scouting, as well as assisting Colletti with big league decisions. Ragazzo was an assistant baseball coach at Fullerton College (1985-88) and Loyola Marymount University (1988-90) before becoming an area scout with the Giants in '90. Meanwhile, the Giants have hired former Dodgers scout John Barr as their scouting director.

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