The Dodgers have the Montreal Expos' permission to interview Felipe Alou as a possible manager, the club said Monday.
The clearance, granted by Expo officials about a week after the Dodgers requested it, enables Dodger General Manager Kevin Malone to begin recruiting his friend, with whom he worked in Montreal. Alou is considered among the best major league managers.
"I'm excited about the opportunity to move forward, but at this point, the process is just beginning," Malone said. "We need to speak with Felipe, and hopefully meet with him, to explain the opportunities that exist here and see if this is a good fit.
"But I'm very optimistic that this is a good fit. We have a lot to offer, and we're going to be a championship organization. Felipe would be a very big part of helping us accomplish that."
Alou, who has been in the Dominican Republic since last Thursday, is expected to return to his off-season home in Miami this week.
Malone plans to meet with Alou in Miami but he may go to the Dominican Republic if Alou remains there longer than scheduled. Alou went there to help his family in the wake of Hurricane Georges, which recently battered the Caribbean island nation.
Moving swiftly is paramount to Malone because the Expos have already offered Alou, who is under contract for the 1999 season, a multiyear extension. Montreal General Manager Jim Beattie is scheduled to speak with Alou by phone Wednesday.
Although Beattie hopes that Alou will accept the contract extension Wednesday, sources said Alou will speak with Malone before deciding. The Dodgers plan to offer Alou a multiyear package that will dwarf the Expos' proposed extension, which is similar to the three-year, $1.8-million contract under which Alou is working.
"Rushing to get something done isn't what I want, but I do want to move forward as soon as possible," Malone said. "The sooner we can get our manager in place, the sooner we'll have another major part of our team in place for next season."
"The sooner we can do that, the sooner the fans can start to feel optimistic about 1999. The more questions you can alleviate early on, gives the fans, and everyone in the organization, more confidence about we're trying to do for the future."
Gary Sutherland, a longtime Dodger scout, has been offered a position for next season but may not retain his title, coordinator of professional scouting, and his duties might change.