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Andruw Jones dons Dodger blue

LOS ANGELES - Now that the Los Angeles Dodgers have Andruw Jones and Jeff Kent in the lineup next season, they can turn their attention to finding a starting pitcher.

Their first choice appears to be free-agent Japanese star Hiroki Kuroda.

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti made clear his desire to land the 32-year-old right-hander at a Dodger Stadium news conference where Jones was introduced Wednesday, a week after the sides agreed to a $36.2 million, two-year contract.

'There were a lot of teams out there who wanted to talk,' said Jones, who has won 10 straight Gold Gloves. 'I wanted to come out here and be a winner.'

Several teams have expressed interest in Kuroda, who has a 103-89 record with a 3.69 ERA in 11 seasons with the Hiroshima Carp of the Central League.

'We've had conversations,' Colletti said, acknowledging an offer has been made but refusing to elaborate. 'I would love to meet with Mr. Kuroda. I would love to meet with him as soon as I can.'

Jones has 368 home runs and 1,117 RBIs along with a .263 lifetime batting average in 11 big-league seasons.

'This man has Hall of Fame numbers at 30,' said Scott Boras, Jones' agent. 'He's one of the most durable players in major league history at his position. He's never been on the (disabled list).'

Jones hit only .222 last season, his lowest average since he was a rookie for the Atlanta Braves in 1996 and batted .217 in 106 at-bats.

'I don't make excuses,' Jones said. 'It was an off-year. I'll bounce back. I never had a bad year like I had this year. It hurt that things didn't go the way you wanted them to go. I'm looking forward to this new year and this new team. I'm really happy the Dodgers gave me this opportunity.'

Jones' 26 home runs this year were his fewest since 1997, but the Dodgers haven't had a player hit that many since 2005, when Kent hit 29. Jones said he spent about a week immediately after the season looking at tapes and saw what he was doing incorrectly.

'I took my time to look at myself and see what the problem was,' Jones said, explaining it was a matter of being balanced at the plate. 'After two weeks, I was hitting.

'This game is mental, you've got to be mentally strong. Now I have a good idea of what I need to do.'

Jones' $18.1 million average salary trails only those of the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez ($27.5 million), Boston's Manny Ramirez ($20 million), the Yankees' Derek Jeter ($18.9 million), and the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano ($18.3 million).

Jones made $13.5 million this year, the final season of a five-year contract with the Braves, who made no effort to re-sign him.

Jones met with Colletti, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and new manager Joe Torre recently at Dodger Stadium, and said he realized then that Los Angeles was the best place for him.

'The Dodgers convinced me, I had the feeling they really wanted me here,' he said. 'That's why I made the choice.'

Regarding the Braves' refusal to make him an offer, Jones said: 'This is a business. My mind was set to finish my career with the Braves. Being in Atlanta for 11 years, I appreciate everything they did for me. Nothing against the Braves.'

Boras said about 10 teams were interested in Jones.

'Andruw wanted to be assured the owner would put up the payroll to be a winner,' Boras said.