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Dodgers' Manny Mota enters a new mode

After the hiring of new hitting coaches, a longtime mentor has duties as a minor league batting instructor in addition to other roles.

April 22, 2013|By Bill Shaikin
  • Manny Mota started his coaching career with the Dodgers in 1980.
Manny Mota started his coaching career with the Dodgers in 1980. (Harry How / Getty Images )

When Manny Mota started his coaching career with the Dodgers, Dusty Baker was in left field and Jimmy Carter was in the White House.

That was in 1980. The Dodgers have changed managers seven times since then, but Mota always has been the rock on the coaching staff.

Until this year, that is. After 33 seasons as a coach — the longest such tenure in club history — the Dodgers quietly moved Mota off the major league coaching staff this season.

Mota, 75, now has an expanded role on the Dodgers' Spanish-language television broadcasts. He also has new duties as a minor league hitting instructor and in making community appearances on behalf of the team.

"I'm fine," Mota said.

In recent years, Mota has coached on the field before the game, then changed out of his uniform and headed to the press box to scout the opposing team or work on the Spanish TV broadcast.

He no longer coaches the major league hitters or travels with the major league team. With the Dodgers on the road this week, Mota traveled to the minor leagues and appeared at the dedication of a youth baseball field.

The Dodgers told Mota of the move last winter, after they hired a new hitting coach, Mark McGwire, and a new assistant hitting coach, John Valentin.

"You can sometimes have too many voices," Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said.

Colletti said he respects Mota's knowledge and appreciates his loyalty to the Dodgers. "Manny has been great for the organization for decades," Colletti said. "He's still very active. He's got a lot of responsibilities. He's got a lot of different things he's helping us with."

For decades, Mota has been a shoulder on which the Dodgers' Latin American players could lean. In his native Dominican Republic, Mota is admired for his playing and coaching career and revered for a foundation that has funded a school, a medical clinic and youth baseball fields.

Mota said last year he spoke every day with Hanley Ramirez after the Dodgers acquired him from the Miami Marlins, easing the Dominican infielder's transition to a new team.

Dodgers infielder Juan Uribe, who also hails from the Dominican Republic, appeared too upset with Mota's new role to discuss it. "I don't want to talk about it," Uribe said.

Catcher A.J. Ellis called Mota's move "a transition" for the players. "We always miss his smiling face and his positivity down by the batting cage," Ellis said. "He's a Dodger legend."

Outfielder Andre Ethier said Mota had done a great job.

"Since I've been here, he's been a fixture in our locker room," Ethier said. "He's been a part of what goes on here, from spring training to the regular season. From early work in the cage to if you want to get some extra swings in after batting practice, he's always been there.

"He was so willing to be there to help, whatever it is, whenever it is.… It was fun to have him here. We miss him. I guess he's in a new capacity for us right now."

The Dodgers let Mota coach in spring training, and they introduced him with the other coaches on opening day of the regular season.

However, with the Dodgers' Spanish broadcast schedule expected to increase significantly under the new Time Warner Cable television package, Executive Vice President Lon Rosen said the team is delighted to have Mota on board as an expert analyst.

"We want Manny to be here forever," Rosen said.

Etc.

Frank McCourt has paid more than $460 million in state and federal taxes related to the sale of the Dodgers, one of his attorneys said Monday. McCourt sold the Dodgers, Dodger Stadium and a 50% stake in the parking lots surrounding the stadium for $2.15 billion last year. After subtracting tax payments and debt assumption, McCourt turned a $1.278-billion profit on the deal.

McCourt's tax payment was disclosed in testimony during a Los Angeles Superior Court hearing in which his ex-wife, Jamie McCourt, asked a judge to throw out the couple's divorce settlement. Jamie McCourt got $131 million, tax-free, in the settlement, but she says Frank fraudulently misled her about the value of the team. The hearing is scheduled to conclude Wednesday, but a ruling is not expected that day.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

Twitter: @BillShaikin

Times staff writer Dylan Hernandez contributed to this report.

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