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Dodgers crying Wolf as market moves

Dodgers crying Wolf as market moves

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said Wednesday's free-agent developments haven't dampened his hope of re-signing Manny Ramirez or adding a veteran pitcher (Randy Wolf) to the starting rotation.

Regarding comments from Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras, that other clubs are finally in pursuit of Ramirez, Colletti said he's still convinced the most logical fit for Ramirez is the Dodgers. The Giants are the only other club to confirm interest.

"We've been in communication with each other throughout, and he knows we would like to sign Manny and he's told us Manny would love to stay," said Colletti.

Colletti said he spoke to Boras briefly Wednesday, but nothing has changed since the two sides reiterated their positions last week -- the Dodgers looking short term (two, possibly three years), Ramirez looking longer (four or five years).

Colletti also said he hadn't spoken with agents for free-agent pitchers since Jon Garland agreed to a deal earlier in the day with Arizona, but that he was still hopeful a veteran will be added.

Wolf has long topped the Dodgers' list and Colletti has a solid relationship with Wolf's agent, Arn Tellem, but apparently the sides will remain apart until the Mets sign a pitcher.

The Mets have been negotiating most aggressively with Oliver Perez, leaving Wolf and Ben Sheets as their backup choices. The Mets are presumed to have more money to spend than the Dodgers, so Wolf apparently won't lower his asking price for the Dodgers until he no longer has the Mets as leverage.

Braden Looper is a fallback for the Dodgers, but only if Wolf signs elsewhere. The Dodgers figure Wolf's desire to pitch at home makes it worth waiting out the Mets' situation.

Colletti also plans to add a reliever for depth, but most likely only after he locks up a starter.

Wolf, 12-12 last year splitting time between San Diego and Houston, pitched well for the Dodgers in the first half of 2007 (9-6), but missed the second half of the season with lingering shoulder problems.

He rebounded well enough for the Astros to make a three-year offer to keep him shortly after the 2008 season ended, but the club quickly withdrew the offer as the economic climate worsened.

Wolf has long been on the Dodgers' radar, along with Garland and Looper, to fill a middle spot in a rotation that has lost veteran free agents Derek Lowe and Brad Penny.

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The only tentative starters for the Dodgers currently are Chad Billingsley (recovering from a broken leg), Hiroki Kuroda and Clayton Kershaw. Another spot is likely to be contested by a group that includes Jason Schmidt, Claudio Vargas, Eric Stults, Ramon Troncoso and Shawn Estes.

Wolf would represent a second left-hander, but more importantly a seasoned pro and leader of an otherwise very young staff. He's also local, a graduate of El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills, Calif., and Pepperdine University, where he schooled after declining to sign with the Dodgers when they took him in the 25th round of the 1994 Draft.

Philadelphia drafted him in the second round in 1997, and he was in the Major Leagues two years later. He pitched eight Major League seasons for the Phillies, when he was healthy. His 2005 and '06 seasons were interrupted by problems that required Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery to solve.

He was an All-Star in 2003, when he went 16-10. He's a strikeout pitcher, extremely tough against left-handed hitters and helps himself at the plate. Wolf's older brother, Jim, is a Major League umpire.

Wolf made only 18 starts for the Dodgers in 2007, but bounced back with 33 starts and 190 1/3 innings last year.

The Dodgers also re-signed free-agent reliever Tanyon Sturtze to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training on Wednesday. Sturtze spent most of 2008 pitching in the Dodgers' Minor League system trying to come back from shoulder surgery. He was released after making three scoreless appearances with the Dodgers in August, but he remained with the club through the playoffs as a third bullpen catcher.

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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