Clubhouses unsettled, and so is NL West race after Giants top Dodgers

Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp
Dodgers center fielder Yasiel Puig (left) ducks as right fielder Matt Kemp fails to make a catch on a ball hit by the Giants’ Gregor Blanco to right-center field in the third inning Monday night.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers are going to the postseason and so, probably, are the San Francisco Giants.

As for where they’ll go and who they’ll play, that will be determined over the next few days. But the playoff pressure might already be making itself felt in both clubhouses.

On Monday, about four hours before the start of a crucial three-game series between the teams, a loud and heated verbal exchange between Coach Shawon Dunston and reliever Sergio Romo caused the Giants to clear their locker room. At about the same time, Manager Don Mattingly sat outside the Dodger clubhouse across the field and talked about the season-long dysfunction that has surrounded his team.

“We’ve had a little more turmoil back and forth,” said Mattingly, whose team is closing in on its second consecutive division title. “A lot of things that happened behind closed doors and stuff that’s going on that has just been tedious this year.”


The Giants, who didn’t immediately say what touched off the shouting match in their clubhouse, put their differences aside long enough to rally for a 5-2 win in 13 innings, leaving them tied with Pittsburgh in the race for a National League wild-card berth.

And while Mattingly didn’t say who was behind the turmoil in his clubhouse, he really didn’t have to.

The health and ego of Hanley Ramirez have been summer-long challenges for Mattingly as has Yasiel Puig’s frequent flights between brilliance and bone-headedness. The manager has also been unable to find enough playing time to keep all four of his All-Star outfielders happy.

Andre Ethier has done most of the sitting in September, batting only 10 times this month, less than Scott Van Slyke and minor-league callup Joc Pederson. And while that’s left Ethier unhappy, Mattingly stressed it hasn’t made him uncooperative.


“Andre and I have talked. He’s not happy with the situation but he’s going to be a good teammate. And he’s going to be professional about it,” Mattingly said. “That’s great for me as a manager and great for the guys in [the clubhouse]. It makes it easier for everybody. It doesn’t mean he likes it any better.”

One guy who had little reason to complain Monday was Dodgers starter Dan Haren, who gave up one hit in seven innings, going deep enough into the game to vest a $10-million option to pitch for the Dodgers next season.

“He’s been good,” General Manager Ned Colletti said. “We signed him to pitch at the back of the rotation and he’s really pitched better than his record.”

And his record’s pretty good. Although some shoddy fielding -- the Dodgers matched a season high with three errors -- cost him a win Monday, he’s still 13-11 and leads the team in starts with 31. He’s also one of two starters to avoid the disabled list.

But what’s really made him stand out in a clubhouse full of personalities is the quiet way he’s gone about his business.

“You want him to do well because he’ll do anything for you,” Mattingly said. “He says ‘I’ll pitch whenever you want.’ You don’t have to worry about him. So that’s the kind of guy you love having on your staff.”

Once a top-of-the-rotation ace who won 15 or more games three times and struck out more than 200 in a season twice, Haren was signed last fall to fill out a rotation headed by Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. So the Dodgers included an option that would guarantee him $10 million next season if he pitched 180 innings in this one. He can also decline the option and become a free agent.

That seemed like a rewardable goal in November since Haren, 34, hadn’t pitched that many innings since 2011. But as the right-hander closed in on those targets there was some question as to whether the Dodgers wanted him back at that price.


Colletti and Mattingly both said they never discussed the numbers in Haren’s deal -- much less the possibility of limiting his work to keep him from reaching them.

“Nobody’s said a word to me about how to use him or not use him,” Mattingly said of Haren, whose season total reached 181 innings Monday. “Which is best for me because I just try to make baseball decisions, try to win a game and let the chips fall where they may.”

Haren cashed those chips in Monday, then said that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be back next season since that option is now his.

“I feel like I’ve earned the opportunity to choose,” he said.