Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Mattingly: 'We Have to Put the Pieces Together'

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Mattingly: 'We Have to Put the Pieces Together'

Article excerpt

Everyone in the Los Angeles Dodgers' clubhouse knows manager Don Mattingly is in the last year of his contract. After playing for the New York Yankees, a little tension is nothing new. But Mattingly admitted it could prove to be a potential distraction.

When he became the Dodgers' manager, he inherited a team on a shoe-string budget. Now, Los Angeles' projected $225 million player payroll - more than double that of most other teams - is the largest in major league baseball history.

In other words, if the Dodgers don't advance to the playoffs for the first time in Mattingly's three-year tenure, he could be gone. He will be the scapegoat, because management can't automatically rid itself of all of those high-salaried players.

Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw will be on the mound for Los Angeles when it hosts pitching-rich San Francisco at 3:10 p.m. CDT today in its season opener. Not only are the Giants the Dodgers' eternal National League West Division rival, they have won two of the past three World Series championships.

"It's not going to be easy, that's for sure," Mattingly said. "They're a good club, capable from top to bottom."

Kershaw said Mattingly's relentlessly positive attitude helped hold the Dodgers together despite the off-the-field financial chaos that reigned most of his first two seasons.

"All he asks of us is just go out there and play the way we're supposed to," Kershaw said. "Do things the right way on the field and he's happy with it."

Mattingly, who has posted a two-year record of 168-155, expects to win now.

"We have to put the pieces together," said the Evansville native.

Last August, the Dodgers and Boston Red Sox made the biggest trade in the history of both franchises. Los Angeles acquired a trio of former All-Stars: Adrian Gonzales, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett. In addition to landing loads of talent, the Dodgers inherited huge contracts and the potential of disturbing the solid clubhouse chemistry Mattingly had painstakingly built in his first two seasons. They also lack a clear leader.

When he was quoted as saying that the former Red Sox players were just happy to be in L. …

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