Apparently fed up over speculation that Billy Beane has been campaigning for his job, Dodger General Manager Dan Evans confronted his Oakland A's counterpart during a phone call last week, a baseball official said Wednesday.
Asked about the call, Beane aimed a pointed response in Evans' direction after initially saying he wasn't sure if it was appropriate to comment on a private call.
"Unfortunately," he said, "rumor and speculation have a tendency to create insecurities. I'm not sure I was the best therapist."
According to the baseball official, Beane had initially called Evans to ask for permission to interview Rick Honeycutt, one of the Dodger minor league pitching coordinators and a former A's pitcher, for the position of Oakland pitching coach, vacated when Rick Peterson accepted a similar position with the New York Mets.
Evans eventually returned the call, ostensibly to grant permission, but took advantage of that pretext to question Beane on whether he has been campaigning for his job, the official said.
Said Evans, when asked about it Wednesday: "Billy called me about 10 days ago to discuss a potential employment opportunity for one of our staff members. The content of that conversation, as with any conversations I have with general managers or Major League Baseball employees, is something I consider confidential, and I'll leave it at that."
According to the official, Beane assured Evans during the call that he hasn't been campaigning for the job, and Evans supposedly accepted that answer. The two have had trade discussions during the general manager meetings here this week.
Nevertheless, sources said Evans has also expressed concerns about Beane's campaigning to other baseball people.
It is known to have become something of a hot button issue for him, fueled by the uncertainty of the Dodger ownership situation and his job status, and compounded by media speculation regarding Beane that began as soon as Boston real estate developer Frank McCourt reached an agreement in principle with News Corp. to buy the Dodgers.
Although McCourt has not commented, it is generally assumed that there will be significant personnel turnover if the sale is finalized.
Beane rejected an opportunity to become the Red Sox general manager a year ago to stay on the West Coast, and he has told more than one person that he would love to have the Dodger job to live closer to his parents, who reside in the San Diego area, and his Orange County based daughter from a previous marriage.
The speculation has also been triggered by the fact that, despite his success in building a team that has overcome payroll and revenue deficiencies to reach the playoffs for five straight years, his relationship with A's owner Steve Schott has become shaky.
In addition, Beane's frustration with the economics and constant turnover -- shortstop Miguel Tejada and closer Keith Foulke could leave as free agents this winter -- has become more visible.
After his A's blew a two-game lead in the best-of-five division series with the Red Sox, Beane snapped, "If you want to give me $50 million more, I'll promise you we won't blow the 2-0 lead."
All of this has been chronicled, and the beleaguered Evans has apparently been reading between the lines. It is not known how heated their phone conversation was, but the baseball official said there was more to it than an exchange of pleasantries.