Dodgers express confidence in Mattingly
Players sad to see Torre leave, but expect familiar temperament
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' dugout will be without Joe Torre next season, but the players take comfort in knowing they'll have about the closest thing to Torre: Don Mattingly.
"Joe's awesome," said Clayton Kershaw, who's never worked under another Major League manager. "Sad to see him go, he helped me a lot. He had a lot of patience with me. Really helped me and helped me progress. He's going to be missed for sure.
At the same time, Donnie's one of the best too, he's awesome. We're not losing anything, just different personalities."
Sadness was a feeling throughout the Dodgers' clubhouse on Friday, when it was announced that Torre would not return as manager next year and that Mattingly, Torre's bench coach and protégé, would take over. But it wasn't entirely unexpected.
"I can't help but feel a little sad," said third baseman Casey Blake. "My gut feeling is I kind of felt it coming, sensed it a little bit, so I wasn't really surprised by it. But I don't know what Joe's plans are past this year, as it pertains to baseball managing, coaching, whatever. But it's tough to see an obvious Hall of Fame managing career to come to an end. I really admire Joe, love the guy and I really enjoyed playing for him the time I had here."
"It's sad, it's sad to see Joe go out," said outfielder Andre Ethier. "It's nice to know we'll have a familiar face coming in, but at the same time, it's going to be different."
Ethier called Torre "a big motivator" for him, and the production showed -- Ethier played under Grady Little, Torre's predecessor, but it wasn't until Torre came in that Ethier became an everyday player.
Ethier and other Dodgers players said they were glad that their next manager was something of a known quantity. Having Mattingly slide in after three years with the team is easier than bringing in someone from outside the organization.
But how exactly Mattingly would be as manager was a lingering question. His temperament is known now to be similar to Torre's: calm, very easy to speak to -- will that be the case as manager?
"I've seen coaches take managers' positions and it's like they think they have to take on a different personality," Blake said. "Or maybe it's their true self coming out, who knows? I would think that knowing Donnie, he would have the same type of personality that he shows on a day-to-day basis. You never know. You know that there's got be some fire under there, he's Donnie Baseball.
"He's a pretty fierce competitor and he's succeeded in a pretty tough place to succeed, New York City, so maybe there is something under, that this is going to be a rude awakening for some of us. I don't know. We'll see. I can't really see that happening, but you never know."
"They've been together three years," said catcher A.J. Ellis, another player who has known only Torre as manager. "They're basically the same temperament and I'm sure Donnie's going to bring some new ideas and stuff. He's going to do great."
While Ethier talked to reporters about Torre's exit and Mattingly's entrance, Blake asked a fitting question. Mattingly, being a former Yankee, was subjected to George Steinbrenner's grooming rules. Torre never instituted a clean-shaven policy once he left for L.A. in 2008, but Mattingly, as a first-time manager, has never had a chance to make up the rules before.
"Is he going to make you cut your hair?" Blake asked.
Said a smiling Ethier, "I don't believe so."
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.