Down the Line Ep 2: Donnie Baseball returns to to Los Angeles
When former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly signed on to become the manager of the Miami Marlins, a return to Chavez Ravine was inevitable.
Mattingly came in with the strongest slugger in all of baseball in right fielder Giancarlo Stanton and took the first three games of the series against the Dodgers.
While most people in his position would call that revenge, Mattingly doesn’t. Instead of harboring resentment, he displayed gratitude for his first managing opportunity and even a bit of remorse for not taking the Dodgers higher than three straight National League West titles (2013-15).
“I’m grateful to the Dodgers for the opportunity to get started as a manager,” Mattingly said. “Everything here was a positive experience for me other than not being able to take the team to the next level. A lot of relationships, people and good memories.”
One of the bigger story lines during Mattingly’s tenure was his relationship with star right fielder Yasiel Puig. Despite the success, Puig’s baseball culture from Cuba didn’t coincided with Mattingly’s old school style.
“That’s another story that gets overblown,” Mattingly said. “Everything with Yasiel over the years for me, and there were meetings and different stuff, but there was nothing from my standpoint that wasn’t about him becoming a better player, teammate and growing. It was nothing personal.”
Puig’s antics even rubbed some of his teammates the wrong way, but he is a changed man this year. He’s early, in better shape, more interactive with the team and the public. It could always be just a matter of time, but first-year manager David Roberts might have something to do with that.
While the Marlins are not the popular pick to make the playoffs this season, that doesn’t mean the expectation in Miami is mutual. Mike Redmond was expected to manage a playoff contender in Miami last season and was fired a month and a half into the campaign because of a slow start.
Marlins owner Jeffery Loria grew up a huge New York Yankees fan and was also a fan of Mattingly during his playing days. For this, Mattingly might have a longer leash than his predecessor, but that doesn’t mean the pressure to win is absent.
“I feel the same pressure to win here as I did on the other side,” Mattingly said. “You always feel pressure, but I definitely enjoy what I’m doing.”
The Down The Line Dodgers Podcast is hosted by Michael Duarte and Tony Capobianco, who covers the Los Angeles Dodgers and their minor league affiliates for NBC Los Angeles. You can hear every episode of the podcast exclusively on thesportskave.com.