Now this is disappointing. Unnecessary at the most, and unfortunate at the least.
On Friday, Mattingly told MLB.com he had reached out to every player who has left the Dodgers this off-season to thank them for their contributions, but had not heard back from Kemp. Mattingly openly wondered if Kemp was mad at him for having moved him from center field.
Then Mattingly met with the local media Wednesday and nothing had changed, not that Mattingly was holding it against Kemp.
“It doesn’t necessarily bother me,” Mattingly said. “I’m not sure Matt ever got the text, to be honest. Guys change phone numbers like they change underwear.”
Except the story had been out for five days and even if Kemp had changed his number, he still could have texted Mattingly from his new phone.
To be certain, Kemp is not the only now-ex-Dodger Mattingly has not heard back from. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who signed with the Red Sox as a free agent, hasn’t responded either.
“I texted Hanley and I didn’t talk to him either, though there were a number of times during the season I tried to get a hold of Hanley and never got a response,” Mattingly said.
Which tells you plenty about the singular Ramirez. Kemp, though, is something else. Kemp had been a Dodger for his entire seven-year career, three years with Mattingly as his manager and three preivious as his hitting coach.
Through Kemp’s bouts of ego and battles with coaches and brain cramps on the bases, through his ultimate explosion as a superstar, His $160-million contract, his series of injuries and comeback in the second half last season, Mattingly has been there.
Kemp can’t really blame Mattingly for his being traded to San Diego. New President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman pulled that one, whatever Mattingly’s input. And it seems silly to blame Mattingly for moving him out of center, particularly considering how well it worked out in the second half.
“It’s the way it was with Matt or anybody of his stature that you’re asking him to move positions, it’s a little bit of a punch in the gut, or you could say it’s a blow to the ego,” Mattingly said. “But it was one those situations last year we felt like was best for the team. But I felt like Matt was great. At the end of the year, we got past that. He played great and we won.”
So come on, Matthew, just a quick little text. Thanks for the memories, all the best, anything.
“I think Matt knows I didn't’t have any hard feelings toward him as the season went on,” Mattingly said. “I feel like I treated Matt with respect. I try to treat everyone with respect. If there’s hard feelings there, I can’t really feel too bad about it because I feel like I treated Matt with respect.”