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A Learning Experience for Donnie Baseball

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Dodger manager Don Mattingly enters his first year at the helm of a baseball team much less a Major League team. After managing in the Arizona Fall League and one spring training almost under his belt, there is still one thing Mattingly can’t get used to.

“Just talking so damned much, constantly,” Mattingly joked. But we know at the heart of all jokes lies the truth.

“I know where I want to be: I want to be on the field. So I’ve just got to make sure I segment my time to get to there and deal with the stuff I have to deal with.”

In other words he is learning how to deal with the media. That was apparent at the beginning of the media session as he looked clearly uncomfortable talking about whether Gabe Kapler is on or off the 25-man roster or if Ivan DeJesus will be starting opening day at second base.

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“Still talking,” Mattingly said. “We’ve got a couple of decisions to make, so we’re not all the way there.

“Things like that for me, I’m not comfortable with until I get official word [from General Manager Ned Colletti.]”

Being a first-season manager Mattingly has come to rely on his coaching staff:

  • Dave Hansen - Hitting Instructor (first season)
  • Trey Hillman - Bench Coach (first season)
  • Rick Honeycutt - Pitching Coach (sixth season)
  • Ken Howell - Bullpen Coach (fourth season)
  • Davey Lopes - First Base Coach (first season)
  • Manny Mota - Coach (32nd season)
  • Jeff Pentland - Hitting Coach (fourth season)
  • Tim Wallach - Third Base Coach (first season)
  • Rob Flippo - Bullpen Catcher (10th season)
  • Mike Borzello - Bullpen Catcher (fourth season)

“I’ve been blessed with good people I’ve relied a lot on - all of our staff from Davey to Trey, Rick Honeycutt. Just listening, paying attention and really just being able to use those guys and ask questions about one thing or another.”

This combined with their late-season swoon gives Mattingly hope that this season will end differently.

“It’s a new year. To be honest with you every club in baseball right now has got a good attitude and feel pretty good about their team.

“It just fell apart last year. For all the reasons you can all talk about. It’s over. It’s been a learning experience for us, for the whole team. You hope that we’ve been able to go away during the winter and come back with a different outlook looking at it realistically what went on and hopefully grow from that. All signs and all indications up to this point has been that. These guys have done everything we’ve asked them to do.”