With the Dodgers’ offense ranking among the worst in the league, the club is expected to change hitting coaches at the All-Star break by replacing Mike Easler with Don Mattingly, according to sources close to the situation who requested anonymity because the move hasn’t been finalized. Mattingly is due to take over when the Dodgers start the second half of the season in Arizona on July 18.
Manager Joe Torre declined to comment.
If Easler is dismissed, the Dodgers would have let go a hitting coach in midseason for the second consecutive year. Bill Mueller replaced Eddie Murray last June.
Easler, who is expected to be reassigned within the organization, is the Dodgers’ eighth hitting coach in the last 10 seasons. The Dodgers appointed him last January, after Mattingly resigned from the coaching staff to tend to family matters amid his divorce proceedings.
Mattingly, a career .307 hitter with the New York Yankees, was on Torre’s staff in New York and was signed to be his Dodgers hitting coach in November. After his resignation, he stayed on as a special assignment coach and has joined the team when it has traveled to the Midwest, near his Indiana home.
Mattingly has told the Dodgers that he is ready to coach for the rest of the season. Mattingly’s agent, Ray Schulte, did not return a phone message Tuesday.
The Dodgers lead the National League in earned-run average but rank among the bottom five in runs, hits, home runs, walks, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Penny’s slow return
Brad Penny isn’t expected to be sent on a minor league rehab assignment until after the All-Star break, Torre said.
Penny received a cortisone injection in his stiff right shoulder, which has prevented him from pitching since May 14. Hiroki Kuroda received a similar injection.
“Hopefully, he’ll have the same result Kuroda had,” Torre said of the right-hander who almost pitched a perfect game Monday night. “Everybody’s going to be lining up for one.”
No deal for Sabathia
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt denied that financial concerns made him quash a potential deal with the Cleveland Indians that would’ve resulted in his team landing star pitcher CC Sabathia, who wound up in Milwaukee.
McCourt refused to comment on the specifics of the proposed deal, only to say that he and General Manager Ned Colletti agreed that “the players didn’t match up.” Colletti also refused to comment.
Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro said the Dodgers “were certainly very seriously involved and talking on a very genuine level.”
McCourt said a trade with the Indians was a real possibility at one point. “I think the deal as it started out had a potential to be a deal that wouldn’t have compromised the goals of this organization,” he said. “I think the deal, as it evolved, got to the point where it became unacceptable to the organization.”
The talks are believed to have started out with the Dodgers offering two players, one of them being third baseman Andy LaRoche, for Sabathia, but came to include several other players on both sides. Sabathia will be a free agent at the end of the season.
Asked if he would be comfortable adding, say, $10 million to the payroll this season, McCourt replied, “I am comfortable with doing whatever makes sense for this organization to meet its objectives.”