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Colletti likes club's makeup, but work to be done

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said Friday the club will consider extending ace starter Clayton Kershaw's contract (he's signed through 2013 and under control through 2014), but a more immediate concern is the upcoming free-agency period that begins after the World Series.

"We still have work to do," said Colletti. "We want to continue to upgrade the bullpen, look for a starting pitcher. Our outfield is somewhat complete, but not complete. We've got to keep our versatility and have somebody that can play center field. Tony Gwynn is still part of the organization and a candidate."

Colletti reiterated interest in re-signing upcoming free-agent relievers Brandon League, Randy Choate and Jamey Wright. League inherited the closer job when Kenley Jansen was sidelined. Jansen is expected to reclaim his closer job after recovering from this week's heart operation, but Colletti would prefer to have too many closers than not enough, and the franchise now has the financial wherewithal to afford that luxury.

"You look at the league and the division and there are deep bullpens and you better be able to match up in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings," he said.

Speaking of financial wherewithal, Kershaw will earn $11 million next year. He is eligible for arbitration in 2014 and free agency in 2015.

"It's something we'll probably think about," Colletti said when asked about an extension.

Kershaw will head next year's rotation that currently includes Josh Beckett, Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano. Chad Billingsley will face hitters next week in Arizona, the first major test to determine if he needs Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. Ted Lilly is recovering from shoulder surgery. Joe Blanton is a free agent.

Free-agent pitchers likely to be on the Dodgers' radar include Hiroki Kuroda, Ryan Dempster, Jake Peavy, Kyle Lohse, Zack Greinke and Blanton.

Colletti said the club continues to search for a hitting coach to replace Dave Hansen, who was dismissed and was quickly named Seattle's batting coach.

Hansen's focus was technical and Colletti sounded as if the club preferred a coach more focused on approach.

"Our approach has to be stronger, our mindset sharper," said Colletti. "We had long stretches where we struggled. We added a lot of players. At the same time, it's still a pitcher, it's still a hitter. We've got to be productive."

He said that former Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, who was a de facto assistant to Hansen for much of the season, is not a candidate.

"He's free to look around," said Colletti. "He has an interest in coming back, but I wouldn't say he's a candidate for hitting coach. There might be something else here for him."

Colletti praised Matt Kemp for playing through an injury that, as recent surgery revealed, was worse than originally known.

"[Team surgeon] Neal ElAttrache feels confident he'll be ready for camp," Colletti said. "He might be a touch behind. Give him a lot of credit. He played through a lot. He wouldn't go home, he would sit it out. Give him credit for battling through it the way he did. After the surgery you have a feeling for what he was going through."

Once the surgical patients recover, Colletti said he likes the lineup.

"With [Carl] Crawford, a couple years ago he was one of the most sought-after free agents," he said. With our speed and power, the combination, we have a lot of talent. It's the best lineup since I've been here and one of the best in the league. That said, we still have to play the game. But it's the type of lineup where it doesn't fall on one person, and that should benefit everybody."

Colletti said that Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig, unable to play in the Arizona Fall League because of an elbow infection, is expected to play in the Puerto Rican Winter League in December.

Los Angeles Dodgers