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DODGERS NOTEBOOK: SEARCH MIGHT LEAD TO HISTORIC HIRE.

Byline: Tony Jackson Staff Writer

The list of people who don't want to become the next general manager of the Dodgers continues to grow. Although owner Frank McCourt was scheduled to speak by telephone on Friday night with former Texas GM John Hart, there were indications Hart's interest in the job was tepid, at best.

That could leave Dodgers assistant general manager Kim Ng as the leading candidate for the job. Ng, who would become the first female GM in major-league history, will be interviewed for the position. When asked for her reaction to getting that interview during Friday's media conference call to discuss the signing of outfielder Jose Cruz Jr. to a one-year contract, Ng declined to address the matter.

``We would rather comment on other stuff as opposed to my situation,'' she said.

Hart, who remained with the Rangers as a consultant after stepping down as GM last month, would join Pat Gillick, Gerry Hunsicker, Kevin Towers and possibly Theo Epstein as veteran GMs and possible candidates for the Dodgers job who weren't nearly as interested in the Dodgers as the Dodgers were rumored to be in them. Rather than wait to hear from the Dodgers, Hunsicker accepted a front-office position with the woeful Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

That speaks volumes about the decline of what was once one of baseball's proudest franchises, one that now seems to be in such a bizarre state of disarray that the ongoing search for a GM has become a buyer's market.

--Cruz returns: The switch-hitting Cruz, who batted .301 after the Dodgers acquired him from Boston on Aug. 9 for minor-league infielder Tony Schrager, agreed to terms on a one-year contract with a club option for 2007. Terms were not disclosed, but the deal is believed to carry a $3.2 million guarantee.

Cruz was eligible for free agency, but hadn't filed. The move probably cements the anticipated end of Milton Bradley's turbulent stint in Los Angeles, because it likely means Cruz will be the everyday right fielder with J.D. Drew moving to center, which was Bradley's old spot.

The Dodgers are expected to try to trade Bradley. But if they can't, they are expected to non-tender him.

Tony Jackson,(818) 713-3675

tony.jackson(at)dailynews.com
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 5, 2005
Words:377
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