Torre tours camps in new executive role
MLB's new vice president of baseball operations visits Dodgers
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Joe Torre is making his first tour of Spring Training camps as Major League Baseball's vice president of baseball operations, and he visited the Dodgers' side of the Camelback Ranch complex on Thursday.It was Torre's 12th camp since his appointment to the position by Commissioner Bud Selig two weeks ago and perhaps his most comfortable. Torre spent the past three seasons of his 29-year managerial career leading the Dodgers; he retired from managing in October. "When I was announced, I just felt I wanted to get around and talk to all the managers and general managers," Torre told a small group of reporters before the Dodgers faced the Padres in a Cactus League game. "I just wanted to say, 'Hello,' have a notepad, listen to anything they want to talk about -- just sort of pick their brains." Torre said he'll visit with the Padres, Mariners and White Sox on Friday, finishing up the 15 Arizona camps, then depart for the 15 camps in Florida next week. He also met jointly with representatives from the unions for both the players and umpires last weekend. "To me, just having the line of communication and exchanging ideas face-to-face has meant a lot," Torre said. "The umpires have a lot of things to deal with, a lot of dirty jobs. I don't want it to get to the point where they don't think they're part of us, because baseball is the priority for all of us." The visit came just days after changes in MLB's baseball operations. Kim Ng and Peter Woodfork were hired as senior vice presidents in the department, and Joe Garagiola Jr. became senior vice president of standards and on-field operations. Garagiola is now in charge of the pace of game, uniform policy and stadium configurations, among other on-field matters. His primary focus is on player discipline for on-field infractions. "Which is not a fun job to do," Torre said. Ng and Woodfork will move to New York and work in MLB's central office. Garagiola, the former general manager of the D-backs and architect of the 2001 team that defeated Torre's Yankees to win the World Series, will mostly operate out of MLB's Phoenix office. Ng, who has been an assistant under three Dodgers general managers for the past nine years, will specialize in MLB's international initiatives, she said on Thursday. That's an important position, considering that the 2013 World Baseball Classic is two years away. Previously, she had been in a similar assistant GM position with the Yankees when Torre was at the beginning of his 12-year tenure there as manager. Woodfork spent the past five years in the D-backs organization and was most recently an assistant general manager, leaving after the 2010 season.
He'll have "a laundry list" of duties, said Torre, who added that he had little input on the hirings."Kim and Peter and Joe will be working under me," Torre said. "Of course, I still have a sense that they're going to be doing the heavy lifting. When it comes to decision-making, they're going to simplify it for me. Peter and Kim are two energetic people. I just met Peter a week ago -- I was pretty impressed and, of course, his resume is also impressive for a young man. Kim I've known and have no hesitation about her doing what we're going to ask her to do." Woodfork also was director of baseball operations for the Red Sox before he left Boston for Arizona in 2005. "I'm getting tired of hearing him tell me Red Sox stories, I can tell you that right now," quipped Torre, proving that old rivalries never die. "I've had extensive conversations with Kim. She's been on both sides of it, as Peter has. I'm sure they have ideas about how we can operate more efficiently, try to be there and help the general managers. "I have a sense that our office is going to be more mobile than working behind closed doors, so to speak."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.