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Don Mattingly to replace Joe Torre as Dodgers manager

Mattingly, currently the team's hitting coach, will take over at the end of the season.

September 17, 2010|By Dylan Hernandez

Don Mattingly will replace Joe Torre as manager of the Dodgers at the end of the season.

Mattingly has been the Dodgers hitting coach since the middle of the 2008 season, which was Torre's first with the team. Before that, they were together with the New York Yankees.

The Dodgers announced earlier this season that Mattingly, who has never been a manager, would guide a team in the Arizona fall league, fueling speculation he was being prepared to take over the major league club.

The Times first reported the news about Torre stepping down, which was later confirmed in a statement from the team.

"It has been an incredible honor to wear the Dodger uniform and I will always carry with me some very special memories from the past three seasons," Torre said in the Dodgers' statement. "This was not a decision I took lightly but I believe it's the right one for myself and my family and I'm truly thrilled that Donnie will be the one leading the Dodgers. It's time that the Dodgers had a new voice and I have the utmost confidence in him. I know he's ready for the challenge."

A news conference is set for 5 p.m., before the Dodgers' game against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium.

"The opportunity to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers is truly an honor," Mattingly said. "There are few organizations in the world with the history, tradition and track record of success as the Dodgers. I'm looking forward to continuing what I came here to accomplish with Joe and that's to win a World Championship."

In that team statement, General Manager Ned Colletti said this of Mattingly and Torre:

"Over the past three years, I've had the opportunity to work with Don closely and have gotten to know him both personally and professionally and I'm convinced that he's the right person to lead the Dodgers. His work ethic is unparalleled, his baseball knowledge is vast and his leadership skills have been established during more than three decades in professional baseball.

"Donnie has also learned alongside the best in the business. Joe Torre has been a great friend, a strong leader and an incredible presence for this organization and I cannot thank him enough for his service to the Dodgers. I respect his decision to step aside and I look forward to the day where I can watch him take his rightful place in Cooperstown among baseball's legends."

Torre, 70, played in the big leagues for 18 seasons and is in his 29th season as a manager, the last three with the Dodgers. He guided the Dodgers to National League West Division championships in his first two seasons, both times advancing to the league championship series where they were defeated by the Philadelphia Phillies.

Torre's contract expires at the end of this season, and with ownership of the team being decided in divorce court, talk of an extension was shelved months ago.

It is still possible Torre will remain with the Dodgers organization, according to one of the sources, who required anonymity because the team had not yet announced the move. Torre has been saying he would remain in baseball, but he has not counted out working for another club.

Torre's record as a manager is 2,318-1,990, his victories the fifth-most by a manager in Major League history. But the Dodgers are currently 72-75 and are threatening to leave him with his first losing season in 15 years.

Mattingly, 49, guided the Dodgers in one preseason game this spring while Torre was in Taiwan, and it didn't turn out well: The Dodgers were penalized for batting out of order because the lineup card that had been posted in the clubhouse—which the team was playing by—didn't match the one given to the umpires.

That was followed by a game-changing blunder in July when Mattingly was filling in for Torre, who had been ejected from a game against the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers led in that game, 5-4, with one out in the ninth inning, the bases loaded, and All-Star closer Jonathan Broxton on the mound.

Mattingly visited in the mound to set the Dodgers defense, then, as he stepped off the mound, turned and stepped back onto the dirt as he fielded a final question from Dodgers first baseman James Loney.

That move — stepping back on the mound after he'd stepped off — constituted a second trip and umpires ordered Broxton removed from the game. The Giants then continued their rally, winning, 7-5.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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