Less than three months before he signed a new three-year contract, Don Mattingly insinuated he might not return to the Dodgers next season.
With his deal formally announced Wednesday, Mattingly talked for the first time about the infamous October news conference at which he sounded as if he were demanding a contract extension.
Speaking on a conference call from his off-season home in Indiana, Mattingly said his end-of-the-season comments weren't a premeditated attack designed to pressure ownership into offering him a new deal. Rather, he portrayed it as the result of a miscommunication that left him uncertain of where he stood with the franchise.
As he spoke only two days after the Dodgers were eliminated from the playoffs, Mattingly hadn't received word from upper management about his future. Mattingly said he figured General Manager Ned Colletti would mention that his 2014 option had become guaranteed when the team advanced to the National League Championship Series. But Colletti made no mention of that. Mattingly blurted out that he might not be back and went on to complain about the difficulties of working as a lame-duck manager.
"I kind of thought that at least that would have been said that day, that I was going to be back," Mattingly said. "But that kind of got left open and I think that's what got me going a little bit."
The issue was resolved in the days that followed, after Mattingly spoke with owner Mark Walter and President Stan Kasten.
"I knew at that point we were going to get something done," Mattingly said.
Mattingly regrets what he said at the news conference. "If I had it to do all over it, I would have preferred it to be in-house," he said.
Dodgers reach out to Tanaka
The Dodgers are in contact with the agent for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, according to Colletti. Tanaka is represented by Casey Close, who is also the agent for Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.
"They're in the feeling-out process," Colletti said. "They're trying to learn a lot about different cities, different markets, different teams, how teams are constructed. We'll continue and see where it goes."
Tanaka flew to the United States on Wednesday to meet with Close, according to several Japanese media reports.
Tanaka is expected to a sign a contract worth more than $100 million. In addition to that, the team that lands him will owe $20 million to Tanaka's Japanese league team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
More extension talks
The Dodgers still want to sign Kershaw to a long-term contract.
"We've had conversations for a while and we'll see where they lead," Colletti said. "It's our desire to sign him here for a very long time."
Kershaw will be eligible for free agency at the end of the upcoming season. Colletti declined to say if the sides are in active talks or if they are any closer to a deal than they were a year ago.
Colletti said he has spoken to Hanley Ramirez's agent about a possible contract extension "in general terms." Ramirez could also be a free agent at the end of the 2014 season.
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