Dodgers’ Don Mattingly says job was in jeopardy early in the season

Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly talks to reporters before a game earlier this season.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS -- When the Dodgers got off to a poor start this season despite their high-priced roster, Manager Don Mattingly realized his job was in jeopardy.

That was evident in a conversation Mattingly recalls having with team President Stan Kasten.


“Stan was really honest,” Mattingly told reporters this week at Busch Stadium. “He didn’t want to do anything, but he said, ‘Donnie, at some point I’ve got to do something.’ ”

One reporter asked whether Kasten was that explicit.

“Yeah, and I understood, I was fine with that,” Mattingly said. “At some point [when you’re losing] you need a change, a different voice.

“If [the players are] not listening, and it’s not going good, you’ve got to make a change just to be making a change. You could be doing the best job you could possibly do and it wouldn’t make a difference.

“I told [Kasten] I understood. I didn’t mind it because I thought he was just honest. He wasn’t trying to make me feel better or anything else, he was just basically telling me the truth.”

Kasten declined comment on Mattingly’s remarks, saying via email Wednesday that he had “nothing to add.”

The idea of firing Mattingly, 52, faded as the Dodgers turned their season around and climbed to first place in the National League West. They were aided by the arrival of rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig on June 3, the Dodgers’ 56th game.

The Dodgers’ rebound included a string of 15 consecutive road victories that ended Tuesday night with a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Mattingly also said he had no hard feelings about reports in the media and elsewhere suggesting that he might be sent packing because of the Dodgers’ early struggles.

“I didn’t really take it personal with any of the writers or anybody else because that’s just the job that you had to do,” he said. “I understand that’s the way the game is.

“When the team doesn’t play well, the manager usually gets it, and when the team’s going good [it’s], ‘You guys are playing great.’ ”

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