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Players Are Impressed by McCourt’s Pep Talk

Times Staff Writer

New owners Frank and Jamie McCourt led Dodger officials in addressing the team Tuesday before the first full-squad workout at Dodgertown.

The McCourts reaffirmed their commitment to winning in a 45-minute meeting in which new General Manager Paul DePodesta, Manager Jim Tracy and Derrick Hall, senior vice president, also spoke to players and support staff.

“This is a good team. This is a very good team with a lot of good players,” Frank McCourt said. “We’re not rebuilding. My goal is to win this year. My goal is to win every year. That’s the single focus that I need everybody in this organization to understand when they come to work. Not just the players, by the way.

“We’re going to just keep everybody focused like a laser beam on winning. And we’re going to win with the right people.”

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McCourt told the group that players on his team must “really have drive, really have courage. The drive and the courage to be the best they can be as players.”

And McCourt wants players to have “respect and pride” for the Dodger uniform, to know “what it means not just to put it on, but what it means to wear it.”

McCourt said he’s intent on changing the culture of the Dodgers, who last qualified for the playoffs in 1996 and haven’t won a playoff game since 1988.

“This is a new day and we have a new direction,” Hall said. “He is committed to winning, bringing the family back to our ownership and forcing a strong sense of accountability at all levels. He made it clear to the team.”

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Players applauded the new owner’s enthusiasm.

“I liked it a lot and a lot of guys were paying attention,” Paul Lo Duca said. “He’s passionate and he wants to win. He means business. He didn’t buy this team as a fan. He bought this team as a very competitive person who wants to succeed, just like every other business thing he’s done.”

Shawn Green especially liked what he heard.

“I think they have a great mind-set, wanting to bring back the family feel and tradition,” Green said. “They want to bring a championship to L.A.”

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DePodesta is playing it cool while figuring out what he has gotten himself into.

The 31-year-old Harvard graduate has been receptive to input from the baseball-operations staff his predecessor, Dan Evans, left behind, and many in the organization are impressed with his low-key approach.

“I’ve been able to get to know a lot of people, listen to a lot of people and use a lot of awfully valuable knowledge,” DePodesta said. “They know these players and they know what they’re doing. At the same time it means earning their respect and vice versa. It just takes a little while.”

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Guillermo Mota’s trial for drunken-driving will take place sometime in April, according to a spokesman from the Glendale district attorney’s office. Mota was stopped while speeding on the Ventura Freeway on April 21 and later charged with two misdemeanors: driving under the influence of alcohol and driving while having a blood-alcohol level of .08% or higher.

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Jose Canseco plans to attend a Dodger minor league tryout camp Monday. The club has strongly indicated it has no interest in signing the six-time All-Star. Canseco, 39, hasn’t played in the majors since 2001.

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