Don Mattingly hopes to be Marlins manager for a long time
MIAMI (AP) — Moments into his introductory news conference with the Miami Marlins, Don Mattingly peeled off his sport coat to try on a team jersey for the cameras.
"I’m hoping I’m not sweating underneath, he said with a smile.
Mattingly hasn’t lost a game yet, and he’s already feeling the heat. That’s the nature of working for Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who’s now on his seventh manager since June 2010.
But Mattingly, hired after five seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, is optimistic he’ll end the Miami managerial merry-go-round.
"I signed a four-year deal," he said Monday. "I plan on being here at least 10.
That sounds good to team president David Samson, who can only try to joke about the Marlins’ instability while enduring six consecutive losing seasons.
"I got a call from an executive of another team asking about our advice on hiring a manager," Samson said. "We’re good at it. We do it every year. … We committed that we wanted this to be the last manager’s press conference we ever did. We’ve done too many."
Loria didn’t attend the news conference, but in a statement he described Mattingly as a "long-term solution."
Perhaps it will help that New York native Loria grew up a Yankees fan, and Mattingly was a six-time All-Star first baseman for the Yankees.
"I’m very relaxed around Jeffrey," Mattingly said. "We met a few years back. We’ve become friends as far as some off-the-field things, charity work and some things he does in New York. That relationship I feel like is solid."
Mattingly was hired last week after parting with the Dodgers, and the change in jobs means a big adjustment regarding resources. The Dodgers led the majors by far this year with a payroll of $289.6 million at the end of the regular season; Miami ranked last at $64.9 million.
And Loria’s notorious for his payroll purges.
"That was probably my biggest fear — he’s going to blow it up and start over, and blow it up and start over," Mattingly said. "I wanted to be part of something that was going to continue to grow."
Mattingly apparently received sufficient assurances on that front, and said the small budget doesn’t bother him.
The Marlins went 71-91 this year but were riddled by injuries. Even with a modest payroll, they might be able to keep their nucleus together for another couple of years. The young talent includes slugger Giancarlo Stanton, ace Jose Fernandez, NL batting champion Dee Gordon and left fielder Christian Yelich.
Mattingly went 446-363 with the Dodgers and won the NL West the past three years, but went 8-11 in the postseason and did not reach the World Series.
He first came to South Florida in 1980 — for spring training with the Yankees. He has been a Dolphins fan since the early 1970s, when fellow Evansville, Indiana, native Bob Griese was leading them to Super Bowl titles.
The Marlins have won a World Series title much more recently — in 2003. But they haven’t been to the postseason since.
"The consensus around baseball is that this is a talented club with a good core that has a chance to grow and develop," Mattingly said. "For me, that was the single biggest thing — the chance to develop, teach and mold a young club and build toward winning the division and winning the championship. … I don’t plan on coming here and losing."
NOTES: Starting pitching will be at the top of the Marlins’ shopping list this offseason. But Samson said Miami will not pursue David Price or Zack Greinke, the free agents who will command the biggest deals. … He added that Henderson Alvarez, the Marlins’ 2015 opening day starter, will not be ready on opening day next year after undergoing right shoulder surgery in June. … The Marlins will soon make a final decision on changes to the dimensions at Marlins Park, and the outfield wall will likely be shorter and closer to the plate next season, Samson said. … A naming-right deal for the ballpark might be final before next opening day.