MILWAUKEE — Despite the rumors swirling over his job status, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly went about his business as his team prepared to start a three-game series in Milwaukee.
Fresh off getting swept over the weekend in Atlanta, the Dodgers held a team meeting prior to taking batting practice Monday, while Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti met with Mattingly in the manager’s office.
“My perspective hasn’t changed,” Colletti said when asked if it was false that Mattingly would be fired this week. “I’m done talking about it.”
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Sitting at 17-25 and seven games out of first place in the division, the Dodgers and their $217 million payroll are certainly one of the biggest disappointments in baseball.
Despite the swirling rumors, Mattingly insisted the meeting with Colletti prior to Monday’s game was nothing out of the ordinary.
“We just talk about the team,” Mattingly said. “Talk about what’s going on and what we are trying to do. The move we were making today. Where we are trying to go. To me it’s a daily process. Just the grind of the season. How do we get better? Is there things that you do differently? Do you persevere and stay the course? Are we confident in the people that we have? Those are the kind of things that you talk about pretty much every day.
“Nothing was different than any other day. As far as any kind of rumors or whatever they are, I talked to (Dodgers president) Stan (Kasten) the other day and he didn’t fire me that day. 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.”
The Dodgers will face another struggling team in the Brewers over the next three days and have a day off Thursday. If a change is going to come this week, Thursday seems like it would be a logical day.
Mattingly was asked if he expects to manage the team Friday if the Dodgers don’t win the series in Milwaukee.
“If we don’t win this series?” Mattingly said. “I have no idea. I really haven’t gotten any feeling that Ned is on the edge of ‘Donny, you are the problem here’.
“It should be a baseball decision. If the organization is going to make baseball decisions and I’m the problem, then that’s a baseball decision.”
In his third season managing the Dodgers, Mattingly made clear he’s pleased with the effort he’s been getting out of his players. He doesn’t feel as if they’ve quit on him or that he’s lost the clubhouse.
“You’ll be able to tell,” Mattingly said. “To me that’s the main thing. If you lose that, you should be fired. If the guys quit on you and they don’t play, you should be gone. You lose a clubhouse or they aren’t playing hard for you then it’s over.”
Clearly not satisfied with the way his team is playing, Mattingly is grasping at straws to find a way to right the ship. He hasn’t lost any sleep about the swirling rumors. Any sleepless nights have come thinking of how to turn the season around, and his thoughts have been focused on trying to put the Dodgers in the best situation to win games.
Mattingly admitted a change could temporarily change fan perspective of the team, but change with that thought in mind isn’t a productive way to go about business.
“You can keep changing all you want,” Mattingly said. “You can do it every day. You can do it every week. You can change the manager, you can change the staff. You can keep changing it. How many hitting coaches have been here in the past 10 years? It’s a great example. It’s helped it a lot. At the end of the day, look at it. All it is is change. Make a good decision. Make a baseball decision.”
By using an analogy to make his point, Mattingly said real baseball isn’t like playing fantasy baseball. Players can’t be easily swapped out, and the Dodgers can’t just go grab different players to change things during the middle of the season.
“This is our club,” Mattingly said. “You can’t just go ‘We’ve got to tear it down.’ What do you do? You have your guys that you count on and those are the guys that have to do their thing. I watch (Dodgers owner) Magic (Johnson) on the show on ESPN and what’s he talk about? Playoffs and big games. Your superstars have to take you there. That’s what it’s going to boil down to. (Clayton) Kershaw is going to have to pitch great. (Zack) Greinke is going to have to pitch great. Our big boys are going to have to play big.
“Nick Punto having a great year is really nice, but Nick Punto is not taking us to the promised land. I say that in an honoring way. Dee Gordon has to do his thing. Mark Ellis has to do his thing. But they aren’t taking us to the promised land. Adrian (Gonzalez) and Matt (Kemp), Hanley (Ramirez) when he gets back, Andre (Ethier), those are your guys in the middle of the order that you count on to produce. How do you not stay with those guys? You don’t just abandon ship.”