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Don Mattingly recalls how job was imperiled by Dodgers' early slump

August 07, 2013|By Jim Peltz
  • Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly says his job was in jeopardy when the team was slumping earlier this season.
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly says his job was in jeopardy when the team… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

ST. LOUIS -- Early in the season, when the Dodgers were slumping badly despite their lofty payroll, Manager Don Mattingly heard in no uncertain terms that his job was in jeopardy.

At one point -- Mattingly couldn't remember the exact day -- he had a conversation with Dodgers President Stan Kasten.

"Stan was really honest" about the prospect of changing managers, Mattingly recalled Tuesday while talking to reporters at Busch Stadium. "He didn't want to do anything, but he said, 'Donnie, at some point I've got to do something.' "

One reporter asked if Kasten "was that explicit?"

"Yeah, and I understood, I was fine with that," Mattingly said. "At some point [when you're losing] you need a change, a different voice.

"If they're not listening," he said of his players, "and it's not going good, you've got to make a change just to be making a change. You could be doing the best job you could possibly do and it wouldn't make a difference.

"I told [Kasten] I understood," Mattingly said. "I didn't mind it because I thought he was just honest. He wasn't trying to make me feel better or anything else, he was just basically telling me the truth."

The notion of firing Mattingly, 52, then gradually became moot as the Dodgers turned their season around and climbed to first place in the National League West. They were aided by the arrival of rookie sensation Yasiel Puig on June 3, the Dodgers' 56th game of the season.

The Dodgers' rebound has included reeling off a string of 15 consecutive road wins that finally ended Tuesday night with a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Mattingly also said he had no hard feelings about comments in the media and elsewhere during the Dodgers' early struggles suggesting that he should be sent packing.

"I didn't really take it personal with any of the writers or anybody else because that's just the job that you had to do," he said. "I understand that's the way the game is.

"When the team doesn't play well, the manager usually gets it," he added, "and when the team's going good [it's], 'You guys are playing great.' "

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