ST. LOUIS — Changes still may be forthcoming with the Dodgers, after their second consecutive losing season, but no major shake-ups will be made among the top decision-makers in the front office.
Peter O'Malley, the Dodgers' owner, announced Tuesday that Fred Claire will remain as vice president of player personnel and that Tom Lasorda will remain as manager, ending months of speculation concerning Lasorda's future.
It also ended Lasorda's immediate aspirations of becoming a general manager--at least with the Dodgers. Several teams, notably the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees, reportedly have an interest in Lasorda, whose contract as Dodger manager expires after the 1988 season.
Lasorda, speaking by phone to reporters who regularly cover the Dodgers, said he would not make himself available should another team be willing to offer a front-office job.
"If I wasn't happy, I wouldn't be sitting here today," said Lasorda, who appeared with O'Malley and Claire at a hastily called press conference less than an hour before Game 1 of the National League playoffs. "I've worked for the Dodgers for 38 years and I'll do whatever Peter wants me to. If Peter said, 'Tommy, I want you to go down and help Nobe (Kawano, equipment manager), I'd do that."
O'Malley said he has received assurances from Lasorda that he will honor the final season on his contract. O'Malley also said he made the announcement, which basically said there is nothing to announce, in hopes of ending speculation of a front-office upheaval.
"I have assurances that neither Tommy nor Fred is going to leave in 10 days, 30 days or 30 minutes," O'Malley said. "If anyone (from another team) would call, we'd tell them that we have named Tommy as manager and Fred as director of player personnel."
O'Malley issued a repeated no comment when asked if representatives from other teams have asked permission to talk with Lasorda. But he indicated that he would deny permission should anyone inquire.
So, with the decision-makers in place, the Dodgers can start making the player-personnel moves they need to avoid a third straight losing season.
The only front-office decision yet to be made is filling the minor league operations job, vacated by retiring Bill Schweppe.
"That (decision) is a few days away," O'Malley said. "Not today. But we will not sit on it."
Lasorda's contract remains unchanged, which means he'll be the manager through 1988. O'Malley also said that, abiding by policy for all Dodger front-office personnel, Claire is not under contract.
Apparently, O'Malley considered a housecleaning before deciding to keep Claire and Lasorda. O'Malley said he made his decision after meeting with Claire and Lasorda Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. He said he didn't want to delay his decision.
Earlier this season, a Toronto newspaper reported that O'Malley had talked with Toronto Blue Jays Vice President Pat Gillick about taking over the player personnel job in 1988. O'Malley denied the report. Tuesday he said he has interviewed candidates outside the organization.
Claire, who had spent his first 18 years with the Dodgers in various administration capacities, was thrust into the player personnel job in early April when Al Campanis was fired because of racial remarks on national television.
At the time, O'Malley said that Claire would assume the job "for the time being," leaving open the possibility that Lasorda would take over at the end of the season.
While not openly campaigning for the job, Lasorda has said he aspires to be a general manager.
Said O'Malley: "We have talked a lot the last couple days. (Lasorda) has convinced me that he enjoys managing as much as ever and that someday he wants to be in the front office."
Claire also said he plans to listen to Lasorda. "Tommy has input into any decision we make," Claire said. "I respect Tommy's baseball knowledge, which I term as sound."
Neither O'Malley nor Lasorda would comment on Lasorda's status after next season, when his contract expires.
Asked about the extended future of Claire and Lasorda, O'Malley remained noncommittal.
"I think you're a little presumptuous to be asking what our plan is for 1989, 1990 or 1995," O'Malley told reporters. "We're working on next year and doing everything we can do to make sure we are in contention."
O'Malley did not rule out the signing of free agents as a means to get back into contention.
"I have no policy toward premier free agents," O'Malley said. "Why am I confident that our performance would change? Because we may have different ballplayers next year, more experienced ball players next year and healthier ball players next year."
Pitcher Orel Hershiser (right knee cartilage) and infielder Dave Anderson (left shoulder cartilage) underwent arthroscopic surgeries Tuesday morning. The Dodgers said both players had no complications and are expected to be healthy by spring training. . . . Mike Scioscia's arthroscopic knee operation has been scheduled for Oct. 20.