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With Don Mattingly’s fate uncertain, Dodgers players offer support

Manager Don Mattingly congratulates Mets Manager Terry Collins after the Dodgers were eliminated from the playoffs Thursday night.

Manager Don Mattingly congratulates Mets Manager Terry Collins after the Dodgers were eliminated from the playoffs Thursday night.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly refused to touch the question. It was too soon, he said, to talk about his future.

In his postgame news conference, Mattingly was asked what the loss meant for his status for next season. Would he be asked back for another year?

“Seriously, you’re asking me that now?” Mattingly said.

He asked the moderator to move on to another question.

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In the clubhouse, though, his players spoke highly of the job Mattingly has done.

“I’m glad I play for Don,” third baseman Justin Turner said. “I would play for Donnie any day of the week. Anything he wanted me to do, anything he asked of me, I’m right there, I’m behind him 100%. I think he’s an unbelievable manager, did an unbelievable job handling everything that goes on both on and off the field with this club, and he’s got my support 100%.”

Reliever J.P. Howell said he has appreciated Mattingly’s steadiness throughout his time with the Dodgers.

“All three years I’ve been here so far, it’s a different type of job here,” Howell said. “The expectations are World Series or fail, and that’s throughout the whole season, so he’s done a great job of when it’s not going so well, he’s always cool to be around. He’s never been terrible, even when he’s looking like he might be in trouble in 2013, he was great. He was great to be around. We were in Milwaukee at the time, and he handled that cool as a cucumber, so that’s all we could ask.”

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Mattingly is under contract for one more season, but the Dodgers could decide to put their historically high payroll in the hands of someone new.

The Dodgers have reached the postseason three times in Mattingly’s five years, and they have won the National League West three years in a row. But in that time, they have won one playoff series and lost three while having yet to appear in a World Series.

Enrique Hernandez, a versatile infielder-outfielder, said this year’s loss was not Mattingly’s fault.

“We didn’t lose because of Donnie, like everybody says,” Hernandez said. “We lost because we couldn’t score runs. Donnie has nothing to do with this. There’s no reason Donnie has to be fired.”

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Dodgers co-owner Mark Walter said the team’s president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman, would make the final decision on Mattingly’s fate.

“You can’t hire guys like that and then make the decisions for them,” Walter said.

While Mattingly has guided the Dodgers consistently into October play, one objective has eluded him: the World Series.

He declined to speak on his future, but he did speak about the disappointment after another season that ended short of that goal.

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“There are really no words to describe how you feel right now,” Mattingly said. “You come to spring training, you work all winter, you scratch, you fight, all year long to get into this situation and you have a chance. It comes to a crash.

“You travel, [the] things that guys go through to get here is extraordinary, and it comes to a crash and you can’t — I don’t think there is any way to soften that blow.”

Staff writers Bill Shaikin and Dylan Hernandez contributed to this report.

Twitter: @zhelfand

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