Don Mattingly wasn’t always like this. When he first started as the Dodgers’ manager in 2011, he was pretty open with the media. He pretty much told you what he was thinking. His office -- unlike now -- was always open to the press.
Now you’d think he’s guarding state secrets. Like this whole managerial thing is just some audition for his NSA career.
Friday night after the Dodgers’ 6-0 loss to the Angels in Anaheim, the clubhouse was left closed long after the game. When reporters were finally allowed in, nearly all players were gone and team executives Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi were leaving Mattingly’s office.
The Dodgers have to be down to their 25-man roster by Monday and clearly players had been informed of final decisions. Not that Mattingly was willing to share them.
“Next time I talk to you, I’ll have a little better picture,” Mattingly said. “Or a finished picture. Or whatever picture you want.”
But the 25-man squad for the opener has been set?
“I think we’re there,” he said. “I think we’ve kinda got it … yes.”
The admission seemed so painful. You wanted to check his brow to see if he needed beads of sweat patted away. Do you need a glass of water?
“I know, I hate giving it up,” he said.
OK, so the roster is set and, you know, may or may not be announced Saturday. There’s no game Sunday, so you can only hope.
But since the double-secret decision has been reached, here’s a last guess at who will trot out to be introduced Monday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.
Bullpen (7): J.P. Howell, Joel Peralta, Chris Hatcher, Paco Rodriguez, Juan Nicasio and Yimi Garcia, with the last spot a tough call between veteran David Aardsma and rookie Adam Liberatore, who never allowed a run in 11 appearances. He has options, however, and would be a third left-hander. Aardsma would have to be added to the 40-man roster, but they are currently at 39.
The Dodgers really like Enrique Hernandez, so he may get the final infield spot over Barney. Ethier way, this spot is likely temporary.
The Dodgers will need a fifth starter by April 14. Joe Wieland was a leading candidate but was already sent down to the minors. If they want him to take the start, he would have to be on the opening day roster. Otherwise, he can’t be called up for 10 days, and April 14 falls on the ninth day.
David Huff, however, is not on the 40-man and could be called up at any time. Huff was strictly a reliever last season for the Giants and Yankees (1.85 ERA in the second half with New York) but has started 54 games in his career. He started last Saturday against the Angels.
Of course, tomorrow they could announce that trade of Ethier or Guerrero, or gamble they can get Nicasio (owed $2.3 million) through waivers. Or Mattingly could announce – or have the PR department announce – that he’s leaving the Dodgers to become the director of National Intelligence.