VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) -At age 80, Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda is returning to the dugout for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
No, Joe Torre isn't leaving. Rather, Lasorda will manage a Dodgers split squad in eight exhibition games next month in Florida while Torre and another split squad travels to China for a two-game exhibition series against the San Diego Padres.
``There is no one else in the game of baseball like Tommy Lasorda,'' Torre said in making the announcement Wednesday. ``He's excited about it. I thought it was a great idea. He's such a fan favorite. Knowing his enthusiasm for the game, I know he'll embrace it.''
Lasorda already has.
``What a thrill this will be, not just to manage the games, but the thought behind it,'' he said. ``This really is a very, very special honor.''
Lasorda, now a special adviser to Dodgers chairman Frank McCourt, managed the team for nearly 20 years before a heart attack hastened his retirement in 1996. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee the following year.
Lasorda last managed in 2000, when he guided an underdog United States team to a gold medal in the Sydney Olympics, beating the heavily favored Cuban national team in the championship game.
``I can't think of a more fitting tribute to a man who embodies the Dodger organization than to have him lead the team during our final week of games here in Vero Beach,'' Torre said.
Lasorda will manage the Dodgers from March 11-18, capped by the team's final home game at Holman Stadium. The team will move its spring training headquarters to Glendale, Ariz., next year.
Torre said coaches Larry Bowa, Bob Schaefer, Mike Easler and Rick Honeycutt won't make the trip to China and will work with Lasorda.
Lasorda is entering his 59th season in the Dodgers organization as a player, scout, minor league manager and major league coach besides his time as manager. His teams went 1,599-1,493 and won two World Series, four NL pennants and eight division titles.
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