Saturday, February 24, 2007

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From "Notes: Mueller to help infielders: Intrasquad game slated for Wednesday; Scully honored" by Ken Gurnick at

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- The Dodgers will put Bill Mueller back in uniform Saturday, but don't jump to wild conclusions.

He's still retired as a player and staying that way.

The club is turning him from the highest-paid assistant to the general manager to the highest-paid infield instructor.

It's all part of his first Spring Training in transition, retired as a former batting champ because of a degenerative knee and now learning the ropes as an executive-in-training.

Mueller was one of general manager Ned Colletti's first signings two winters back, inking a two-year, $9.5 million contract that pays him $4.5 million in 2007, guaranteed whether he plays or not. He was signed to play third base and fill the black hole left by the departure of Adrian Beltre.

But Mueller's already balky right knee broke down in late April and didn't respond to a third operation in early May. The knee is irreparably crippled with arthritis and might eventually need to be replaced.

He officially retired in November and joined Colletti's front office. He's done player evaluation, was part of the Winter Meetings contingent and journeyed to the Dominican Republic for winter-ball scouting.

"It's been a tough transition, no doubt about it," said Mueller. "In the same breath, I'm at peace with it."

Mueller will address the team, then hit the field. Asked if he had any specific projects -- he laughed when third-base prospect Andy La Roche's name was mentioned -- Mueller said he's been preparing his speech and he has some ideas in mind of what he wants to say and do on the field this Spring Training.

Also, Vin Scully is receiving the John R. Wooden Lifetime Achievement Award. Kind of like God winning the God award.