Mattingly Feels He’s Still Dodgers’ Guy
Milwaukee — Beleaguered manager Don Mattingly insisted yesterday he doesn’t feel he’s about to be fired by the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he has no idea whether he needs to win a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers to keep his job.
Mattingly’s comments came an hour after GM Ned Colletti said his manager is “doing fine” and has kept the team steady despite its last-place showing in the NL West.
Mattingly said he talked with team president Stan Kasten within the past couple of days and didn’t get any indication he was about to be replaced.
“As far as any kind of rumors or whatever they are, I talked to Stan the other day. He didn’t fire me that day,” Mattingly said. “I’m still here. Ned didn’t tell me I wasn’t going to be here tomorrow or today. That’s the way I look at it.”
There has been plenty of speculation that Mattingly’s job is in jeopardy. The Dodgers entered last night’s game in Milwaukee with a 17-25 record despite a $215 million payroll.
When asked whether he thought he would be managing the team Friday if it didn’t win the three-game series with the Brewers, Mattingly said: “I have no idea. I really haven’t gotten any feeling that Ned’s like on the edge of like, ‘Donnie, you’re the problem here.’”
Mattingly said he was concentrating on finding ways for his team to play better, and said the stars on the club would have to perform well for the Dodgers to win.
He referred to comments from Magic Johnson, part of the Dodgers ownership group, that superstars have to carry teams in the NBA playoffs.
“That’s really what it’s going to boil down to,” Mattingly said. “(Clayton) Kershaw’s going to have to pitch great. (Zack) Greinke’s going to have to pitch great. You know? Our big boys are going to have to play big.”
The big boys in the Dodgers’ lineup haven’t produced as in years past. A group that includes Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier ranks next-to-last in the majors in runs.
The bullpen also has been a sore spot, and shortstop Hanley Ramirez has played in only four games due to injuries. Mattingly didn’t criticize any players, but said the middle of his lineup would have to perform well for the team to win.
“Adrian and Matt, Hanley when he gets back, Andre, those are the guys, the guys in the middle of the order, that you count on to be run producers,” he said. “That’s what we do. How do you not stay with those guys? You don’t just abandon ship and say, ‘What do you do?’”
Colletti also said he expects better performances from the players, and blaming one person is an easy way out.
The manager and general manager met in Mattingly’s office before the game, and Mattingly said they simply talked about the team and not his job.
Despite the turmoil, Mattingly said he wasn’t concerned about his status.
“You know what? I don’t even worry about that part of it,” he said. “I only worry about turning it around. Really, I never get away from my base. All I worry about is us playing our best baseball. And I worry about our team, and getting us to perform up to the best of our ability, and try to keep the team going in a position to have success.”
Ramirez is on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring.
“I think as you look around our lineup you should have four players that are capable of hitting 20 or more home runs,” Colletti said. “One of them has only played a couple of games this year.”
Los Angeles is batting .226 with runners in scoring position, which ranks 23rd in the majors. The bullpen blew late leads in each of the past two games.
“We need to score more runs,” Colletti said. “We need to do better in the clutch, be better with runners in scoring position. I think if we were to do that you’d see a different dynamic, including in the ‘pen.
“When you are asked to protect a 1-0 lead, or a 2-0 lead, or one-run leads, or close games every day, it takes a lot,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t do it. It doesn’t mean they get a free pass because it’s a 1-0 or a 2-0 game, but I think it makes a difference. When you have no margin of error it’s tougher. And a lot of our games have been no margin of error.”