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Dodgers fire bench coach Trey Hillman

Hillman, who had held the position for three years, is dismissed one day after Manager Don Mattingly says he wanted his entire coaching staff to return in 2014.

October 22, 2013|By Dylan Hernandez

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A day after Manager Don Mattingly said he wanted his entire coaching staff to return next season, the Dodgers fired his bench coach of three years.

By dismissing Trey Hillman on Tuesday morning, upper management signaled to Mattingly that if he is to manage the Dodgers next season, he will manage under their terms. Mattingly revealed Monday a growing rift between him and the front office, insinuating he might not return in 2014 if he isn't offered a multiple-year contract.

Even before Mattingly blindsided his superiors with his comments, they thought he needed a more seasoned coach by his side to help him make in-game decisions.

Hillman said he was told as much by General Manager Ned Colletti, who explained to him that "the combination was not what the organization needed." Hillman, 50, has been a professional baseball coach for 23 years, including five in the major leagues. He was manager of the Kansas City Royals for three seasons.

Colletti could not be reached for comment.

Hillman was the only coach told he would not return. Hitting coach Mark McGwire is under contract for next season. The Dodgers exercised their 2014 options on pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, first base coach Davey Lopes and third base coach Tim Wallach. The team intends to re-sign assistant hitting coach John Valentin, bullpen coach Chuck Crim and assistant pitching coach Ken Howell.

Mattingly came under heavy criticism during the playoffs for some of his late-game decisions. A gracious Hillman said shouldering some of that blame was part of his job description.

"People assume, whether right or wrong, that you were a major cog in the decision making," Hillman said.

Before Hillman was fired, he made a stop at Los Angeles International Airport to drop off Mattingly, who was returning to his Indiana home. Mattingly told him he didn't know why Colletti wanted to meet with him.

Hillman praised Mattingly as a manager, saying, "His preparation is just outstanding."

Along with the improved health of key players, Hillman said Mattingly's ability to remain positive during tough times was a main reason why the Dodgers were able to turn around their season.

For the sake of Mattingly and the Dodgers, Hillman said he hoped the sides could work out their differences.

"I hope Donnie gets to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers for many, many years to come," Hillman said.

Hillman thanked the Dodgers for the chance to coach in Los Angeles for three years and Colletti for how he handled his dismissal.

"Ned was exceptionally professional," Hillman said. "It was obvious he didn't have any joy doing what he did this morning."

Colletti offered Hillman an opportunity to remain in the organization in a different capacity. Although Hillman is open to that, he said his goal is to land another major league coaching position.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

Twitter: @dylanohernandez

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