The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim sure grabbed all the headlines this off-season when they signed Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson during the free agency period. Does that impress Don Mattingly in the slightest way? The former Yankees first basemen let it be known that he thinks the Angles will always be second class in Los Angeles similar to how some baseball fans would compare the Mets making the headlines in New York — a Yankees town. It’s only fitting that Donnie Baseball would be a part of another historic franchise while the opposing cross-town rival is making all the headlines looking back at when No.23 was a part of some dreadful Yankees teams in the 1980′s. Mattingly is in his second year as Dodgers manager as he looks to get this ball club moving forward with the momentum they put together in the second half of last season. Don Mattingly joined ESPN Los Angeles with Mason & Ireland to discuss his comments of Los Angeles always being a Dodgers town, the fundamentals he is stressing in spring training, picking up right where the Dodgers left off after a strong second half to the 2011 season, Bobby Valentine banning beer in the Red Sox clubhouse and Joe Torre dropping out of the running to be the Dodgers next owner.
Did you have any idea that when you said Los Angeles will always be a Dodgers town it would garner the kind of reaction it has caused?
“No, I really didn’t expect it to do that. I mean I feel that way. Honestly I don’t want to back away from it because the Dodgers are a historic franchise in the history of the game and I don’t think that you can change that.”
What’s the important thing you guys gotta get accomplished in spring training?
“Just a lot like the other years. It’s just getting the fundamentals ironed out. Let everybody knows exactly what is expected of them and their position of the job they need to do and make sure there is understanding in all areas of the game, so basically like everyone else in spring training and try to create an environment that these guys are comfortable from the standpoint of that guys will do what you want, but they need to know what you want. For me I want to make sure guys are getting down that line and we are running the bases aggressively. We know what kind of club we want to be, so when they are not doing that it’s kind of easy to go back and say hey we’ve talked about this. This is not a surprise to you. This is what we’ve talked about. This is what we want done.”
Can you carry the momentum from the second half of last year where the team went 41-26 to the first half of this year?
“Well obviously we are going to try to build off of last year. Some of the guys we had success with a lot of those guys are coming back. You start talking about the back end of our bullpen with Javy Guerra and Kenley Jansen, obviously I’ll have Clayton Kershaw and Matt Guerrier. Those are just two huge chunks on your ball club and the feeling that we had the way we played. That’s an area where last year we end up winning at the end. We were winning a ton of games, but the thing I appreciated about our club last year was that these guys play hard all year. We weren’t getting the wins early, but they kept at it and they kept going and then all of a sudden the wins start coming and then things fell into place and that’s what we want to build moving forward with.”
What’s your view of Bobby Valentine banning beer in the Red Sox clubhouse?
“A lot of places have done that already. It’s not a bad idea. In the past guys would sit around and have a few. I think with all the DUI’s and guys having wrecks on the way and things like that. At home it is probably a good idea because you don’t want guys to sit around and have four or five and then drive home, so I don’t think it’s a bad idea and really I’m surprised they hadn’t already done it.”
Joe Torre has dropped out of the ownership race to buy the Dodgers. What is your reaction to that? Have you talked with Joe? Is he disappointed?
“I am not sure. I have not talked to Joe since I’ve seen that news, so I am sure he is disappointed. Obviously Joe is not going to get involved with something that he comes to end up getting out of and not being on the right end of it. I am sure he is disappointed and maybe they will get back in it. I don’t know all the rules of this thing. This thing seems crazy to me and you never know what all the rules are. I’m not sure what all of those are, but Joe is a good baseball man and been a good friend of mine and a mentor for me. I think the people of L.A. want a good baseball person to come in and take over the franchise. I think that is what we all want. I don’t want to get on anyone’s side, but I think we all want a baseball group to come in and every group seems like they have a good baseball person involved with them.”