The Dodgers have “no plans” to fire Manager Don Mattingly when the team returns home Thursday or any time before then, a club official said late Sunday night.
Mattingly’s status has appeared tenuous since the Dodgers were swept in San Francisco two weeks ago, part of an eight-game losing streak. After the Dodgers were swept in Atlanta this weekend, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports speculated that Mattingly soon would be fired and suggested Thursday as a likely day. His article was posted Sunday night with the headline “Ax to fall soon on LA’s Mattingly.”
The Angels fired hitting coach Mickey Hatcher at this time last year, and Manager Mike Scioscia survived. There has been some thought about whether the Dodgers should dismiss Trey Hillman, the bench coach picked by Mattingly. It is uncertain whether removing a coach would be considered the best solution at this point, or whether the Dodgers’ plans would change if the team does not fare well in a series that starts Monday in Milwaukee.
The Dodgers have their three best starters -- Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu -- lined up for the Milwaukee series. There had been interest within the organization in waiting to evaluate Mattingly until Greinke could return and establish himself alongside Kershaw at the top of the rotation. Greinke was activated from the disabled list last week.
The Dodgers could replace Mattingly on an interim basis with third-base coach Tim Wallach, a former minor-league manager of the year, or first-base coach Davey Lopes, a former major-league manager. Another candidate would be Pat Corrales, 72, a former major-league manager added to the Dodgers’ front office last winter by President Stan Kasten.
It is uncertain whether the Dodgers’ owners would consider a move involving General Manager Ned Colletti. Kasten last winter also added Gerry Hunsicker, the former general manager of the Houston Astros, to the Dodgers’ front office.
The Dodgers, with the highest payroll in baseball history and World Series expectations, are in last place in the National League West. The only team in the league with a worse record than the Dodgers (17-25) is the Miami Marlins, a team that gutted its roster in the hope of winning two or three years from now.
Mattingly appeared exasperated Sunday by the Dodgers’ bullpen, which lost all three games of the Atlanta series and has lost 13 games this season, the most of any major-league relief corps.
The Dodgers’ front office held on to three extra starters -- Aaron Harang, Ted Lilly and Chris Capuano -- through spring training and into the regular season. That forced the team to release two veteran relievers that pitched well in the Cactus League, both of whom found work elsewhere. One of them, Kevin Gregg, now is closing for the Chicago Cubs, with a 0.00 ERA in 11 appearances.
“We had guys get away early who seemed to fit,” Mattingly told reporters in Atlanta.