DALLAS — The reports that the Dodgers were negotiating to sign free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal reached Lara, Venezuela, late last week, and the news that they had agreed to a contract came soon after, and then arrived the message that General Manager Ned Colletti had called.
Cesar Izturis, initially satisfied that these were simply "winter rumors, like every year," said he'd call Colletti, "maybe next week."
When he is recovered from ligament surgery in his right elbow -- the rehabilitation for which Dr. Frank Jobe said Monday "is going very well" -- Izturis apparently will take his Gold Glove to second base, and cede his leadoff position to Furcal as well.
"It surprised me," Izturis said from Lara. "But, nothing you can do. I can't control that. I want to do my rehab and get healthy and come back strong."
Furcal, who agreed to a three-year, $39-million contract with the Dodgers, will have his physical examination today in Los Angeles. If he is found to be sound, Furcal will displace the affable and able Izturis, who might still have seven or eight months of healing ahead. Izturis expects to continue his rehabilitation in Los Angeles next month, and Jobe said he could start throwing in mid-February.
Izturis said his right elbow felt better.
"I'm getting my motion back," Izturis said.
He called Furcal, "A friend of mine. A great player. A great guy. It's good for the team."
And, yet, Izturis hedged somewhat at going willingly to second base, which is where he'd go, assuming Jeff Kent obliged a position change to first base.
"I don't know," Izturis said. "I'll see when I come back, how my arm feels when I come back, and see what happens. ... I know I feel good now."
Colletti said he spoke "at length" with Kent on Sunday regarding the addition of Furcal and what it might mean at midseason, assuming he is healthy and not traded.
"I told him I need you to be open-minded and we'll see what happens," Colletti said. Between now and then, he added, "There'll be many twists in the road."
The first twist arrived already. Kent, experiencing soreness in his right wrist, underwent an MRI exam last week and is scheduled to be examined today by specialist Norman Zemel. The MRI exam showed no damage, and Kent has been put on a rehabilitation program. Kent broke his left wrist while riding a motorcycle in 2002.
Asked Kent's reaction to a potential and permanent switch to first base, Colletti suggested Kent would be amenable, and said, "You can ask him that. The last person I want to speak for is Jeff Kent."
Dodger owner Frank McCourt is believed to be meeting with a managerial candidate as early as today, possibly former Boston Red Sox manager Grady Little, as Colletti moved closer to completing the second search for a replacement for Jim Tracy.
As of Monday evening, four of Colletti's five managerial candidates -- Jim Fregosi, John McLaren, Joel Skinner and Manny Acta -- had not been notified that they were finalists. The other, Little, did not return a message left at his home in Hickory, N.C.
McCourt said last week he expected to meet with the leading candidate or candidates this week. He has an engagement to attend in Washington D.C. tonight, and could alter his flight to accommodate Colletti's search.
Fregosi, a special advisor to Atlanta General Manager John Schuerholz, is the only one of the five to attend the winter meetings. Little was not registered at the official hotel, but McCourt could meet with him elsewhere.
A team official said early Monday that the hire could be made by Wednesday, but Colletti would not be held to a deadline.
When he returned from dinner Monday, Colletti stopped momentarily in the hotel lobby and was met by Fregosi, who draped his arm over Colletti's shoulders as they boarded an elevator together.
It was the first contact here between the general manager and the managerial candidate, and was not believed to be prearranged.
The Dodgers were talking to Boston about acquiring left-hander David Wells, who got a two-year contract with a $4-million base from the Red Sox last off-season.
The Red Sox are believed to be asking for prospects in return for Wells, who was 15-7 with a 4.45 earned-run average for Boston.
The Dodgers, San Francisco and Pittsburgh are among the most interested in free-agent third baseman Bill Mueller. ... Colletti was expected to meet with agent Scott Boras, who represents starting pitchers Jeff Weaver, Kevin Millwood, Jarrod Washburn and Kenny Rogers. ... Though they are willing to trade Odalis Perez, the Dodgers are reluctant to move the left-hander unless they get a starter in return. ... Two Barry Axelrod clients who interest the Dodgers: starter Matt Morris and Mark Sweeney, the left-handed hitter who batted .294 for San Diego last season. ... Tracy, now with Pittsburgh, said he would recommend that the Pirates acquire Dodger outfielder Milton Bradley.