LOS ANGELES (AP) – Grady Little has a folksy manner about him that smacks of Texas – no surprise because he’s from Abilene and spent four years in his home state as a cotton farmer.

With the exception of one well-publicized glitch, Little seemed to handle Boston just fine, and vice versa. Now, he’s playing Los Angeles, and appeared at home Friday despite the bright lights.

Hired as manager of the Dodgers during the winter meetings in Dallas, Little met with local press for the first time, and spoke optimistically concerning the future despite the team’s disastrous 2005 season.

“The money,” Little replied when asked what attracted him to his new job, drawing a chuckle from the assembled media.

“No, this is the Los Angeles Dodgers,” he said. “I’ve been to a storied place (in Boston). This is the Dodgers. I’m sure we’re going to have a product on the field that’s going to make everyone proud.”

The 55-year-old Little managed in the minor leagues for 16 years before being hired by the Red Sox in 2002. They went 188-136 and reached the playoffs in each of his two years as field boss before being let go after the 2003 season.

There isn’t a Red Sox fan alive who doesn’t know why that decision was made, and Little broached the subject Friday before anyone could ask.

He stayed with pitching ace Pedro Martinez in the eighth inning of Game 7 in the 2003 AL championship series, and the decision backfired. The Yankees scored three runs to tie the game, then earned the World Series berth on Aaron Boone’s homer in the 11th inning.

“It was a big game that meant a lot to a lot of people,” Little recalled. “I made a decision, and the results were bad. What are you going to do? I went on with my life.”

Little said managing the Red Sox in itself wasn’t a difficult task.

“It was those other 20 hours of the day that was tough,” he said. “The passion for wanting to win was there; (and) it’s here. You can’t fault them for that. You can’t say anything negative – that’s what I want, too.”

But that didn’t happen in Boston until the year after Little left, when the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years.

Shortly after leaving Boston, Little was hired by the Chicago Cubs to be a scouting consultant and assistant to general manager Jim Hendry. Little spent last season as the organization’s roving catching instructor. Then, the Dodgers came calling.

“I was surprised that he wasn’t managing a big-league team,” said Ned Colletti, hired by the Dodgers as GM on Nov. 16. Los Angeles was without a manager for more than two months until Colletti decided on Little last Tuesday.

“What I’ve learned about Grady by talking to him and other people is he’s a very honest man with great integrity,” Colletti said.

Little said he felt like “the luckiest man in the world” to get the Dodgers’ job.

“I think when there’s only 30 of these jobs in the world, you don’t know how confident you can be,” he said regarding a second opportunity to manage at the major league level.

Little’s minor league teams went 1,054-903 and qualified for the postseason eight times.

In his eight years as a big-league manager or coach, his teams made the playoffs on six occasions.

“If I would have (gotten tired of managing in the minors), I probably would have gotten out,” he said. “I wasn’t making any money. My wife had to work the whole time. I got one more level in this life where I want to win a championship. That’s right here in L.A.”

Little and Colletti made it clear the team needs a lot of help. Two well-known players who have drawn interest are former third baseman Bill Mueller, a former AL batting champion who played for Little in Boston, and veteran catcher Sandy Alomar Jr.

“We’re talking to a lot of different people,” Colletti said. “Nothing is imminent.”

(But) that can change in a minute.”

Colletti acknowledged the Dodgers need a backup catcher to young Dioner Navarro, and said a signing could be announced at any time.

Regarding third base, he said: “We’re trying to upgrade – it might be a trade or free agency.”

The Dodgers were 71-91 last season – one year after going 93-69 to win their first NL West championship since 1995. They’ve won only one postseason game since winning the 1988 World Series.

“A lot of stuff is being done right now to make this team better,” Little said. “Right now, we’re in the process of putting the very best players on the field. Ned’s sleeping about 30 minutes a day.”

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