Piece by piece, the 2011 Los Angeles Dodgers coaching staff is slowly coming together, and within the next few weeks, general manager Ned Colletti is expected to confirm all reports and make an official announcement about who will be working under new skipper Don Mattingly next season.
Ken Davidoff, a national baseball writer for Newsday, reported on Tuesday that pitching coach Rick Honeycutt has agreed to return to Los Angeles for a fifth season.
Honeycutt will presumably be joined by new third base coach Tim Wallach, who was recently eliminated as a candidate for the Milwaukee Brewers' managing vacancy.
Several weeks ago, Wallach agreed to a contract to become the Dodgers' bench coach or third base coach, as long as he didn't land a managerial position with another Major League club. Outside of the Toronto Blue Jays, the Brewers were the only team to contact the Dodgers and ask permission to interview Wallach. Toronto wasn't on the list of teams that Wallach was permitted to talk with, as specified in the contract.
According to Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com, former Kansas City Royals manager Trey Hillman has emerged as the favorite to become Don Mattingly's first bench coach. Mattingly had been campaigning for Larry Bowa to stay on with the Dodgers in the role of bench coach, but it is assumed Colletti wasn't comfortable with Mattingly's decision.
Bowa, along with last year's bench coach Bob Schaefer, have recently confirmed that they will not be returning to Los Angeles next season.
Hillman was fired on May 13 of this year after managing the Royals for just over two seasons. Prior to managing in Kansas City, he was the manager of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan. In 2006, Hillman guided the Ham Fighters to their first Pacific League championship title in over 25 years.
Jeff Pentland, who last year was the Dodgers' secondary hitting instructor at Camelback Ranch, will be named as the new Los Angeles batting coach. Before being hired by the Dodgers, Pentland worked as the batting coach for the Chicago Cubs (1997-2002), the Kansas City Royals (2003-2005) and the Seattle Mariners (2005-2008).
Former Major League slugger Chili Davis will assume Pentland's previous position while Dodger great Manny Mota will continue his role as a hitting instructor.
According to a number of sources, Ken Howell is expected to return as bullpen coach despite more than several implosions by Dodger relievers over the course of the 2010 season.
Additional sources are reporting that current first base coach Mariano Duncan has been told to pursue other interests, although there may be a spot available for him coaching in the Dodgers' farm system if he decides to pursue that route.
Most new managers are permitted to assemble a coaching staff on their own after being hired by a Major League club, but since 2011 is Mattingly's first year managing and due to the tumultuous state of the franchise, Colletti has decided to intervene to ensure that all the proper moves are made.
If Mattingly doesn't fare particularly well in his initial season as manager of the Dodgers, it's already been suggested that he can utilize the excuse of not being able to put together the staff underneath him by himself.
Right now, however, the first task at hand must be to focus on assembling a competitive roster and building positive momentum heading into spring workouts.
In other management news, Dodger fans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Assistant General Manager and Scouting Director Logan White will be returning to Los Angeles next season. White was being considered as the new general manager for the New York Mets, but was eliminated as a candidate for the position late last week.
White is described as the "heart and soul" of the Los Angeles scouting system by many who are familiar with the Dodgers organization.