Mar 10, 2010 1 Comment ›› Pat Dollard
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – On his first day as Dodgers interim manager, hitting coach Don Mattingly said Wednesday that the team has made overtures about him eventually becoming Joe Torre’s permanent replacement.
With Torre en route to Taiwan to manage a Dodgers split squad for three exhibition games, Mattingly is in charge of the team in Arizona and will work at least five games as manager.
Mattingly interviewed with the Cleveland Indians for their manager opening this offseason. He then turned down an interview request from the Washington Nationals.
In a meeting this winter with Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, owner Frank McCourt and team president Dennis Mannion, Mattingly said the word manager was brought up but “nothing definitive” was said or done.
“We talked about it, for sure,” he said.
Mattingly’s first day managing came complete with a rookie gaffe when the Dodgers batted out of order against the Arizona Diamondbacks later Wednesday. Andre Ethier came to the plate twice in the span of three Dodgers batters. Crew chief Mike Winters wanted Ethier to hit behind Matt Kemp to adhere to the lineup card the Dodgers submitted to the umpires before the game.
Dodgers bench coach Bob Schaefer filled out the lineup cards, but the one posted in the dugout listed Ethier batting before Kemp.
“I could have avoided it simply by just checking the lineup card,” said Mattingly. “We usually look at it before the game but I didn’t even look at it.”
The Dodgers and Diamondbacks called it off with the game tied at 4 after 10 innings.
Torre’s contract expires after this season but both he and McCourt said they are working on a one-year extension. Mattingly would then take over the Dodgers in 2012.
“Obviously with Joe, everything is off of him,” Mattingly said. “(After) the first interview with Cleveland, talking to the Dodgers I felt like I was part of their future and they liked me. I like it here. I’ll keep working toward that.”
Mattingly, who turns 49 on April 20, has no managerial experience. He was the Yankees’ bench coach in 2007, taking over games twice when Torre was ejected. He said the Yankees went 1-1 in those games.
Torre also turned over the first four spring games to Mattingly with the Dodgers going 1-3 in those contests.
“I’ve been pretty much managing every day down here,” Mattingly said. “I’m not doing too good at it.”
Mattingly has no family ties to Los Angeles, but has always had an affinity for the area.
“I liked California the first time I came out to play in Anaheim,” he said. “We were always coming out from the East Coast where it was hot and you get out here and it was cool at night. It was good playing weather. But more than anything it fits my personality as much as anything.”
Mattingly described himself as laid back and joked that his quotes as manager would be boring.
Still, with his duties as hitting coach to tend to, Mattingly plans to lean on bench coach Bob Schaefer for help over the next few days.
“I have to keep my priorities straight,” Mattingly said. “I know where I want to go but I also know what my job is and I’ll keep my mind on that. I’ll soak up as much as I can with all the other areas as we go.”