LOS ANGELES -- Tony Gwynn's left shoulder is still sore, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly doesn't need to say anything more to know he'd like to bring Gwynn back next year.

Mattingly had already told Gwynn that his playing time in September would diminish as the club wants to see if Jerry Sands is ready to play in the Major Leagues.

"It's not really costing him time," Mattingly said. "We know what Tony is and what he brings to the table."

Gwynn signed with the Dodgers after being non-tendered by the Padres last winter. He will be eligible for salary arbitration coming off a salary of $675,000. The Dodgers see him as a versatile fourth outfielder on a club that has a more offensive-minded left fielder to go with Matt Kemp in center and Andre Ethier in right.

"Tony is definitely a guy we're interested in," said Mattingly. "I'm not making decisions on who will be here or not be here next year. We all like Tony, it just depends how it sets up. We've got to find offense in certain spots and that's one of those spots. He can play all over the outfield. If you ask Tony to hit fifth and drive in runs, that's not his game. His game is speed, setting the table, stealing a base."

Gwynn, with a .258 average and 22 steals in 133 games, has had a nice bounce-back season from last year, when he hit .204 with 17 steals in 117 games. He also is 8-for-22 (.364) this season as a pinch-hitter.

On anniversary, Mattingly focused on future

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers were eliminated from the Wild Card race Saturday on the one-year anniversary of Don Mattingly being named the Los Angeles' manager.

Mattingly said he hasn't thought about mathematical inevitabilities of this year, but he's already pondering next year, focusing on the need for offense. He said general manager Ned Colletti consulted him on roster moves last winter and he doesn't expect that to change.

"It's always a discussion," Mattingly said. "Ned's the boss. In the end, he has to pull the trigger. Hopefully, Ned has a good feel for my vision on who can play and not play. I hope he takes the input, not just from me but from the staff that is studying guys on a daily basis, that he trusts their opinions.

"I feel it's always been a give and take of information. Ned's always been, 'What do you think about this guy?' He's never been, 'We're just doing this.' But the offseason is Ned's time to put the club together."

Mattingly disputed the suggestion that the Dodgers weren't active last offseason.

"We were pretty aggressive last offseason, as far as pitching is concerned," he said. "We got Juan [Uribe] for thunder. Ned hasn't told me what he'll be able to do or not do this offseason. If it's the same as last winter, I'm OK with that, at least the same and not going backwards."

Mattingly said when the season is over next week he will visit the Dodgers' Arizona Instructional League workouts before heading home to Indiana.

"I've barely been home in the last two years," said Mattingly, who managed in the Arizona Fall League last year before getting married.