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Wallace Close to Leaving Again

June 08, 2003|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

Key Dodger executive Dave Wallace is on the verge of leaving the club again, this time to join the Boston Red Sox.

The senior vice president of baseball operations, who has played an important role in the development of the major leagues' top pitching staff, said Saturday he is in negotiations to become Boston's pitching coach.

"It's all moving pretty quickly," said Wallace, whom the Dodgers recently granted permission to interview with Boston. "I can't really say what's definitely going to happen, but everything is happening fast."

The Red Sox are expected to soon complete a deal with Wallace to replace Tony Cloninger, who will go on indefinite medical leave to focus on treatments for bladder cancer. The Waterbury, Conn., native grew up a Red Sox fan and has a home in Massachusetts, so the Dodgers did not block Boston's latest run at Wallace.

"Normally, I wouldn't have [granted permission] because Dave is such a valued employee," General Manager Dan Evans said. "But this is a special opportunity for Dave, and he has always expressed an interest in returning to the field one day."

In November, Wallace rejected an offer -- with a salary believed to be in the $450,000 range -- to rejoin the New York Mets as pitching coach, a position he held in 2000.

Wallace has had two stints with the Dodgers, the first stretching from 1981 to 1997, when he was hired by the Mets. He returned to the Dodgers in 2000 and served as interim general manager in 2001 after Kevin Malone was forced to resign. Wallace is under contract through 2004, with a salary of $400,000 per season.

Formerly a pitching coach with the Dodgers and throughout their farm system, Wallace would immediately join Boston Manager Grady Little's coaching staff, but his return to the field might be short-lived.

The Red Sox apparently are considering tailoring a position to Wallace's skills, which would enable him to continue to help develop young pitchers, an American League official said. The Dodgers won't permit Wallace to interview for front-office positions similar to his current job, but serving as Boston's pitching coach, however briefly, would circumvent that problem.

The Red Sox were eager to interview Wallace in the off-season, hoping to hire him as an advisor to young General Manager Theo Epstein, but backed off when the Dodgers sought compensation.

"We're in the midst of a lot of stuff, but the only thing that's definite is what's on the field," said Wallace, who would be reunited in Boston with three-time Cy Young award winner Pedro Martinez, whom Wallace mentored with the Dodgers. "Because of Tony's situation, that's where the team has the biggest need right now. That's where the focus is. As for the future, I just don't know."

Times staff writer Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.

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