When talking about his team's performance Friday night, Don Mattingly was back to using words that could be printed in a family newspaper.
With the Dodgers opening a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies with a 7-2 victory at Coors Field, Mattingly was in considerably better spirits than he was two nights earlier, when he turned foul-mouthed as he described his team.
"We did a nice job today," Mattingly said. "It was a pretty clean game for us."
Mattingly didn't back down from the off-color remark he made Wednesday — "Basically, we're . . ." — and there was no reason for him to do so. Three of Mattingly's high-profile players said they had no problems with the statement.
"True — at least lately," Adrian Gonzalez said.
"I think we would all agree," Matt Kemp said.
Hanley Ramirez didn't understand what the fuss was about.
"So?" Ramirez said. "If we don't like it, play better."
Ramirez said he also agreed with Mattingly's observation that the team has lacked a common objective.
"Everything he said, I saw it too," Ramirez said. "We have to get it together. We have to ride the same boat."
Kemp, on the other hand, disputed the idea.
"There's nothing wrong with our chemistry," he said. "We all get along. We're all on the same page. We're just not executing when we need to execute. I don't really know where that came from."
Mattingly implied that players were more concerned about themselves than they were about the team.
With Yasiel Puig established as the everyday right fielder, Kemp has shared playing time at the other two outfield positions with Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford. Moreover, Kemp has been moved from center field to left.
Asked if the situation in the outfield has made it difficult to concentrate on winning, Kemp replied, "I come to play every day, no matter what. I might not be playing the way I want to be playing right now, but I get my work in. I think we all get our work in. That's all you can ask for."
Gonzalez offered the opinion that the apparent absence of a shared focus was the result of the Dodgers' ever-shifting lineup.
"Last year, when we took off, it's when Puig and Hanley settled in and we were able to have a consistent lineup," Gonzalez said. "Everybody knew what their role was. I think, right now, everybody is still trying to figure out what their role is."
Told the outfield situation could prevent the Dodgers from establishing a set lineup, Gonzalez countered, "We have to, if we want to win. Everybody needs to know their role so they can focus on that and succeed."
Told of Gonzalez's words, Mattingly replied, "It sounds good, but just can't do it."
Ramirez hasn't been hitting, which is why Mattingly moved him Friday from the third spot in the lineup to second. Other changes in the lineup have resulted from injuries to Crawford, A.J. Ellis and Juan Uribe, who are currently on the disabled list.
Mattingly said he envisions the Dodgers establishing a regular lineup one day. But he argued that success leads to an everyday lineup and not the other way around.
"If we get things going in the right direction, you don't switch guys all over the place," Mattingly said.
On this day, Mattingly called on his team to have more competitive at-bats.
"We have to force the pitcher to fight for his outs," Mattingly said. "We can't give easy ones up."
The Dodgers responded by scoring six runs in 51/3 innings against 23-year-old Eddie Butler, who was making his major league debut.
"When we do that, we're going to be fine," Mattingly said.
Kemp was also confident the season would turn around.
"We can't be in panic mode. This isn't panic-mode time. We still have a lot of games to play. I think when people start panicking, you start picking up bad habits and we can't have that."
The Dodgers have 100 games remaining in the regular season.
Gonzalez cautioned the team to not look ahead to the first-place San Francisco Giants, whom the Dodgers trail by 8 1/2 games.
"We just have take care of our own games," Gonzalez said. "We have to play better. If not, we're going to have to be looking at those wild-card spots and that's not where we want to be."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times