LOS ANGELES -- A black stretch limousine carried Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Tom Lasorda to his next appointment at a Hollywood television studio, concluding a hectic nationwide schedule of appearances that had left him looking like just another road-weary, 60-year-old salesman.

Basically, that is Lasorda's vocation. These many years, the loquacious manager has been selling the Dodgers and himself, which might be a redundancy -- in many parts of the country, he represents all that is good or bad about the Dodgers.

When his passenger commented that the bags under Lasorda's eyes looked like suitcases, he bristled and immediately perked up.

"I feel good," Lasorda exclaimed. "If I knew I was going to feel this good at 60 when I was 50, I would have rather been 60 than 50. I told {owner} Peter O'Malley that at lunch . . . "

Given his visibility and long-standing dedication to the Dodgers, it seems implausible that Lasorda would ever be employed elsewhere. Yet, this is the final season of his multiyear contract.

The Dodgers are coming off consecutive 73-89 seasons, yet Lasorda's managerial reputation has remained largely intact. But another losing season, especially considering the improved talent provided by O'Malley and executive vice president Fred Claire, and Lasorda might not find another lucrative Dodgers contract awaiting him next winter.

Lasorda, who can make Norman Vincent Peale look like a pessimist, acknowledged the pressure he faces in the coming season, but said that he will not buckle under it.

"It's important for me to win every year," Lasorda said. "The contract isn't important. A two- or three-year contract, all that means is that you'll be paid for two or three years.

"Let me tell you something. I've been with the Dodgers 39 years. I think that's pretty good security right there. In the 11 previous years, we've finished first {in the division} five times. Another year, we finished in a tie for first. Another year, we finished one game out on the last day of the season. So, in 11 years, we had seven years in which we went into the last day of the season with a chance to win it, or won it. I'm going to let my record speak for itself.

"In the last two years, I thought we could've done much better if we had not suffered the tremendous amount of injuries. Let me have a healthy team, let me have the kind of players we should have, and you're going to see a difference."

Lasorda said he has not talked to O'Malley about another contract extension. At the conclusion of last season, when speculation abounded about Lasorda's future, sources said the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs asked O'Malley for permission to talk to Lasorda about either a managerial or front-office position -- or both -- but O'Malley would not allow it. At the time, O'Malley declined to comment.

But if the Dodgers have another losing season, Lasorda might find himself in the unusual position of being a free-agent manager.

"Everybody kept saying {last fall} that I wanted to be a general manager," Lasorda said. "That's not true. What I said to them was, 'When I'm through managing or when I no longer can manage, I'd like to do something else like that.' I'd like to be a general manager. But everybody thought I wanted to a general manager before I finished managing.

"I know there's pressure, but it's something that comes from within, only because of a fear of failing. I think there are times when {I} think about it, but it's not a fear thing. You should wake up in the morning and think you're capable of accomplishing a lot of things; be better today than yesterday."

But, will there come a time when Lasorda, who will be 61 in the fall, decides that he has had enough of managing?

"I think when that time comes, I think I'll know it and feel it. But I feel so good now, I can't tell you."