LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Dave Wallace, the New York Mets' pitching coach the last 1 1/2 seasons, is returning to the Los Angeles Dodgers as a special assistant to general manager Kevin Malone, the team said Wednesday.

Often at odds with Mets manager Bobby Valentine, Wallace took a job in the team's front office as an adviser to GM Steve Phillips after this past season, but that didn't last long.

Wallace worked for the Dodgers for 17 years as a minor league pitching coach (1981-86), organizational pitching coordinator (1987-94) and major league pitching coach (1995-97).

``I'm disappointed, but we understand,'' Phillips said. ``Dave has a long history and affection for the Dodgers. When we gave them permission to interview him for a front-office job last month, we knew this was a possibility. We want to wish him nothing but the best and thank him for what he's done for us.''

Wallace, 53, will be involved in all aspects of baseball at the big league level, including scouting and development. He will work closely with the Dodgers' minor league teams and young pitchers along with the team's international efforts.

``It is exciting to be coming back to the Dodgers,'' Wallace said in a news release. ``I am returning because I believe in the philosophy and the direction of the organization.''