A .500 record wasn’t the goal Joe Torre was expecting the Los Angeles Dodgers to be aiming for heading into his final series as manager.
It will have to do.
The Dodgers will try to avoid giving Torre his first losing record in 15 years by continuing their dominance of the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night.
Despite announcing his retirement last month, Torre couldn’t say with certainty that he’ll never manage again.
“Baseball has been my life, and hopefully will continue to be my life in some capacity,” Torre, 70, said at his announcement. “When I came out here, it was just to find out if managing can be fun again, and it’s been fun. … But you have to make some decisions by instinct, and my instinct tells me it’s time to go.”
Torre, who won four World Series in six appearances with the New York Yankees from 1996-2003, won consecutive NL West titles with the Dodgers (78-81) in ’08 and ’09. This year, however, he’s trying to avoid his first losing season since being fired by St. Louis with a 20-27 record in 1995.
Los Angeles, which completed a three-game sweep of Colorado with a 7-6 win Wednesday, has named hitting coach Don Mattingly as Torre’s successor.
“After what our aspirations were and to be in position the first half, .500 is fine, but it’s really not enough motivation,” Torre told the team’s official website. “We have more important things in mind. You want to win, but you pay attention to what you want to see and what Donnie wants to see.”
The 24-year-old right-hander is 0-2 with a 7.47 ERA in three starts since being recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque. He struggled again Saturday, allowing four runs and a season-high six walks in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-2 loss at Arizona (64-95).
He was superb against the Diamondbacks at home June 1, allowing two hits in seven innings of a 1-0, 10-inning victory.
The Dodgers have taken 16 of 20 meetings from Arizona at Chavez Ravine and own an 11-4 mark in the season series.
While Los Angeles is aware of who will lead the team in 2011, Arizona’s Kirk Gibson will use this series to leave a lasting impression on new general manager Kevin Towers as he makes a case for the full-time managerial position.
Gibson is 33-46 since taking over for the fired A.J. Hinch.
Arizona suffered its 12th loss in 14 road games after being swept in a three-game series with a 4-1 defeat to division-leading San Francisco on Thursday.
The Diamondbacks are 24-54 away from home, the second-worst record in the majors.
“We don’t play well on the road,” Gibson told the team’s official website. “That has to be addressed. It’s brutal.”
The left-hander was 7-3 with a 3.51 ERA in 40 games - nine starts - for Triple-A Reno.