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Gagne Says He’ll Take Less to Stay

Times Staff Writer

Eric Gagne wants to remain a Dodger because the cheers still ring in his ears.

“You heard the fans,” he said. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Gagne wants to remain a Dodger because he’s impressed by the roster.

“I want to win and this team will be a winner,” he said.

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But would Gagne, who is recovering from back and elbow surgeries, re-sign with the Dodgers for less money than he could get somewhere else?

“Yes,” he said. “I know any contract is going to be incentive-laden.”

Gagne’s two-year, $20-million deal expires at the end of the season. Because of the questions regarding his health, the Dodgers are certain to pay him a $1-million buyout rather than pick up his $12-million option for 2007.

There won’t be any hard feelings from Gagne. And he will express to his agent, Scott Boras, his desire to return to the team he won a Cy Young Award for three years ago.

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“He’ll tell me what he thinks and I’ll tell him what I want,” Gagne said.

But Gagne, who is traveling with the team despite being out for the season, doesn’t want to get ahead of himself.

“Right now the game plan is to get healthy,” he said. “That will dictate everything.”

The Dodgers face a difficult decision. They probably won’t offer Gagne arbitration, meaning they would have only until Jan. 8 to sign him. It’s unclear whether he will be healthy enough to pitch in a simulated game by then. General Manager Ned Colletti has not given Gagne any indication whether he wants to re-sign him.

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“He just talks about getting healthy,” Gagne said.

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Shawn Green is batting .439 against the Dodgers this season. But he won’t get to face their pitchers this weekend because he was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the New York Mets.

“We appreciate the chance to face a team that just traded an ex-Dodger,” Manager Grady Little said. “They typically eat us up.”

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Little wouldn’t speculate on the Diamondbacks’ motivation for dumping Green and shedding $6.45 million from their payroll despite being in the thick of the National League West race.

“We don’t know what they’ve got in mind,” Little said. “It’s all we can do to concern ourselves with winning.”

Green will get a chance to face the Dodgers again when they visit New York in September.

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Ryan Ketchner appears to be making a full recovery from ligament-replacement surgery. The left-hander -- one of the few deaf players in professional baseball -- has a 1.19 earned-run average in 22 1/3 innings for Class-A Vero Beach and the Dodgers’ rookie team in the Gulf Coast League.

In 2004, Ketchner was a double-A all-star and pitched briefly in triple A. After surgery in May 2005, he has struck out 26 and walked only four while holding opposing hitters to a .156 average.


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