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DODGER REPORT

Wallace Goes to Red Sox as Pitching Coach

June 10, 2003|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

DETROIT — There are benefits to working close to home, and Dave Wallace welcomes the new experience after being hired Monday as Boston Red Sox pitching coach.

"I'm getting to sleep in my own bed right now, and I haven't been able to say that a lot over the years," said the former Dodger senior vice president of baseball operations, whose Norfolk, Mass., home is 32 miles from Fenway Park.

"You spend so much time away from your family in this game, so there comes a time when you have to try to tie in your work and your family situation as best you can. I finally have the opportunity to do that, and it's really a great feeling."

The Red Sox are equally pleased, hiring Wallace, the only candidate they interviewed, to replace Tony Cloninger, who will go on indefinite medical leave to focus on treatments for bladder cancer. Wallace plans to be in uniform tonight in Boston for the opener of an interleague series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Wallace, 55, is believed to have received a package similar to his Dodger deal, which included a $400,000 salary.

"Money wasn't what was behind this," said Wallace, who had two stints with the Dodgers, the first stretching from 1981 to 1997, when he joined the front office of the New York Mets.

"I was at a place I loved, I worked with a lot of great people, but this is something that's just very special. You hate to leave a place you enjoy, but this is a dream situation, back home and on the field."

Many doubt Wallace will remain in uniform long. Boston plans to eventually elevate him to a front-office position overseeing pitching for the organization, an American League official said. And although now a member of Manager Grady Little's coaching staff, Wallace is expected to also serve as an advisor to young General Manager Theo Epstein.

How eager were the Red Sox to hire Wallace?

Well, apparently concerned the Dodgers might block Wallace from leaving, considering they requested compensation when the Red Sox pursued him in the off-season, a member of the Boston ownership group contacted Dodger chairman Bob Daly to request permission, an unusual move for a pitching-coach position.

Wallace and his wife, Joyce, also own a home near the club's spring-training hub at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., and he has many longtime friends in the organization. Might another stint with the Dodgers be in his future?

"All I know is I loved my time with the Dodgers," Wallace said, "but I'm looking forward to this now."

Dodger General Manager Dan Evans is expected to divide Wallace's duties among other senior advisors.

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Insurance payments on pitcher Darren Dreifort, scheduled to undergo season-ending knee surgery June 17, will begin in August, a team spokesman said.

Dreifort, who modified his contract in 2001 to help the Dodgers lower their payroll that season, is owed the rest of his $12-million salary this season.

The policy will help to cover those expenses, the spokesman said, and the club is hopeful Dreifort will rejoin the 25-man roster in 2004.

Dreifort has salaries of $12 million in 2004 and $13 million in the 2005 -- the final years of a five-year, $55-million contract.

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High school pitcher Chad Billingsley, the club's first-round pick in the amateur draft, agreed to terms on a $1.375-million signing bonus.

Billingsley, 18, was 6-1 with a save and a 1.49 earned-run average in 11 games for Defiance (Ohio) High. He is expected to be assigned to Class-A Vero Beach.

The Dodgers also signed 26th-round pick Thomas Piazza, the brother of Met All-Star catcher Mike, whom the Dodgers traded in 1998.

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ON DECK

Opponent -- Detroit Tigers, three games.

Site -- Comerica Park.

Radio -- KFWB (980), KWKW (1330).

Records -- Dodgers 34-28, Tigers 16-44.

Record vs. Tigers -- First meeting.

Tonight, 4 p.m. PDT -- Hideo Nomo (6-6, 2.84) vs. Gary Knotts (2-4, 4.73).

Wednesday, 4 p.m. -- Kevin Brown (8-1, 2.06) vs. Adam Bernero (1-7, 5.45).

Thursday, 4 p.m. -- Kazuhisa Ishii (5-2, 3.01) vs. Jeremy Bonderman (2-8, 5.51).

Staff writers Mike DiGiovanna and Ben Bolch contributed to this report.

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