By Greg Beacham/The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Joe Torre never got the Los Angeles Dodgers to the heights his Yankees once reached, and now the veteran manager is moving on.
Torre said Friday he will retire after his third season with the Dodgers, and Los Angeles immediately announced hitting coach Don Mattingly will replace him in 2011.
Torre took over the Dodgers before the 2008 season after 12 successful years and four World Series titles with the New York Yankees. Although he revitalized the Dodgers while making the playoffs twice during his relatively brief stint in Hollywood, he never matched his success in the Bronx.
He led Los Angeles to division titles in each of his first two seasons, but lost both times to Philadelphia in the NL championship series. His current Dodgers began their penultimate homestand of the season Friday at 72-75 and in fourth place, 11 games behind San Francisco, with their playoff chances all but erased.
“It has been an incredible honor to wear the Dodger uniform, and I will always carry with me some very special memories from the past three seasons,” Torre said in a statement. “This was not a decision I took lightly, but I believe it’s the right one for myself and my family, and I’m truly thrilled that Donnie will be the one leading the Dodgers. It’s time that the Dodgers had a new voice, and I have the utmost confidence in him. I know he’s ready for the challenge.”
Torre is almost certain to get quick admission to the Hall of Fame: Every manager with at least four championships except him already is in Cooperstown.
Torre turned 70 in July, and has been rumored to be interested in returning to the broadcast booth — or even in owning a team. He has a 2,318-1,990 regular-season record in 29 major league seasons as a manager that included stints with the Mets, Atlanta and St. Louis.
“I know that he had talked about (retiring),” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who played for Torre in New York. “It’ll be interesting to see how he feels in December — if he stays retired. Joe has been doing it a long time, and I’m sure there’s other things Joe wants to do with his life. Am I surprised by it? I don’t think I would have been surprised either way, because I know how much he loves to manage, but I also know how much he loves his family.”
Mattingly was Torre’s bench coach with the Yankees, but lost out to Girardi for the manager’s job in New York when Torre left following the 2007 season. He then followed Torre to California, and has long been assumed to be the heir apparent.
This will be Mattingly’s first major league managing job, although he plans to manage a team in the Arizona fall league.
“The opportunity to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers is truly an honor,” Mattingly said in a statement. “There are few organizations in the world with the history, tradition and track record of success as the Dodgers. I’m looking forward to continuing what I came here to accomplish with Joe, and that’s to win a world championship.”
The Dodgers’ tumultuous front-office status likely helped Torre make up his mind, with owners Frank and Jamie McCourt mired in a messy, ongoing divorce trial that has affected the team’s entire operation.
“Over the past three years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Don closely and have gotten to know him both personally and professionally, and I’m convinced that he’s the right person to lead the Dodgers,” general manager Ned Colletti said. “His work ethic is unparalleled, his baseball knowledge is vast and his leadership skills have been established during more than three decades in professional baseball.
“Donnie has also learned alongside the best in the business. Joe Torre has been a great friend, a strong leader and an incredible presence for this organization and I cannot thank him enough for his service to the Dodgers. I respect his decision to step aside and I look forward to the day where I can watch him take his rightful place in Cooperstown among baseball’s legends.”