Don Mattingly wishes he kept Dodgers contract talks strictly in-house

Don Mattingly wishes he hadn't spoken publicly about his contract status as Dodgers manager in October.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Don Mattingly had other things to worry about, like the way his basement in Indiana had flooded. The harsh winter storm had been unkind to his home and there was a wet vac to organize.

“We’re farmers here in Indiana, we do our own work,” he said.

By midafternoon he was unaware who had been voted into the Hall of Fame or how many votes he had garnered in his 14thseason of eligibility (47, 14.2%).

“I was assuming I wasn’t getting in this time, so I wasn’t too worried about it,” Mattingly said.


And Mattingly is no longer worried about a new contract, the Dodgers making it official Wednesday that he was signed to be their manager for the next three seasons.

Actually, Mattingly said he hadn’t been much concerned over getting a new contract since speaking with team Chairman Mark Walter and President Stan Kasten a couple of days after his now somewhat notorious postseason news conference, the one in which he proclaimed despite an option year kicking in by the Dodgers’ winning the division series against Atlanta, it did not mean he would return.

“Once I talked to Stan a couple of days after the press conference and talked to Mark, I knew at that point we were going to get something done,” he said. “At that point I really wasn’t that worried about it.”

Mattingly said via conference call he had never intended to force the Dodgers’ hand with his October comments, and he seemed to regret he had shared his frustration publicly.

“At the time, you’re just out of the playoffs, it’s been a long season and a lot of different things had happened, frustrations one way or another, and things just come out of you at that point,” he said. “Looking back, I’d rather it kinda stayed in-house and dealt with it like that. But I didn’t have any preconceived notion of trying to do anything like that. But it came out, I couldn’t help it after it came out, and then it was just a matter of dealing with it.”

Mattingly seemed a tad wounded that the Dodgers had never announced his contract had vested for 2014. That October new conference was the first it became public knowledge.

“The fact I knew my contract had vested with the win against Atlanta, I kinda thought that at least that would have been said that day that I was going to be back,” he said. “But that kinda got left open and I think that’s what got me going a little bit.

“If I had it to do all over, I would have preferred it to be in-house. I don’t like doing anything through the papers, as you guys know. I just wish I would have kept it inside and dealt with it face-to-face at that point.”

Mattingly said his new three-year deal does not include an option, so that eliminates that future concern.

Mattingly played first base for the Yankees when owner George Steinbrenner hired a new manager almost annually, and said the entire team can benefit from understanding the manager has support from ownership.

“There’s a stability part of it, in knowing that you’re going to be around,” he said.

“You’re going to build respect personally with guys in things you do on the field. How you treat ’em is where you truly gain respect. But also when the organization and upper management shows you that respect [as manager], then it sends a message to the players that they trust this guy and believe in him. And that’s where I think it makes your job easier.”