Mattingly, Pentland join Dodgers
Hitting coaches have challenge in trying to ignite Jones
PHOENIX -- The Dodgers, who have burned through eight hitting coaches in the past 10 years, welcomed two more Friday.
Don Mattingly officially took over for Mike Easler, and Jeff Pentland, who recently became the third roving hitting instructor in the organization after being let go as Seattle's Major League hitting coach, also joined the Major League club indefinitely in hopes that somebody, anybody, can figure out how to get Dodgers hitters to drive in runs.
Mattingly, who became manager Joe Torre's security blanket with the Yankees, worked out his family problems so he could reclaim the job he originally accepted when Torre was hired, only to beg off because of issues related to his divorce.
Mattingly and Pentland both spoke of the challenges of a young lineup, but the most immediate priority for both is to get some production, any production, out of Andruw Jones, who had only 10 RBIs in the first half, only three on base hits.
Pentland worked with Jones during a brief stint at Triple-A Las Vegas after the outfielder's knee surgery. Torre said Jones didn't swing and miss a pitch during his three-game stay there with Pentland. Unfortunately, Jones has been just as awful since he returned early from knee surgery as he was before he underwent it. Overall, he's batting .164 with two homers and 59 strikeouts in 165 at-bats.
"Andruw, to me, he's gotten long to the ball," Mattingly said. "But I've only seen him on TV. I'd like to see him before I make a judgment on him."
Pentland talked of Jones as if he was speaking of the player who starred for Atlanta, not the one who has struggled with the Dodgers.
"He was good," Pentland said. "Of course, that was a different scenario. It's Triple-A, not the big leagues. He was pretty solid. He just have to get his confidence back. We worked on his balance. He had a layoff of 6 1/2 weeks. When you're hurt, you get into bad habits."
Mattingly touched on a common criticism heard about the young lineup he takes over.
"I've seen us lose a lot of games the same way," he said. "We need to see improvement, we need to get a little better all the time. Over time, we should be improving. The players got here early because they're talented. There's no reason we can't be a club that gets better and better.
"This division is winnable. It depends on who gets hot. No reason we can't get hot. This club has an opportunity to win. A lot of people don't think so."
In other hitting news, disabled pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney is with the club after a brief injury rehab with Las Vegas, but he has not yet been activated.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.