09/13/12 9:38 PM ET
Amid LA's struggles, Mattingly seeks out advice
By Alex Angert / MLB.com
When asked why his team has struggled so much lately before Thursday's game against the reeling Cardinals, the skipper repeated the phrase "I don't know" over and over again.
"If you're asking me to explain it, I'm having trouble with that one myself trying to put it in words or reasons why," he said. "You can come up with all kinds of theories why, maybe times are hard, they haven't been together enough, whatever that is, we're pressing."
Trying to right the ship, the second-year manager has turned to some past winners seeking advice. He said he has turned to Joe Torre, team president Stan Kasten and a number of coaches on his staff to pick their brains.
Most recently, he sought out Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson, a five-time NBA champion, for some pointers. Mattingly said he ran Wendesday's pregame phantom infield drill where the team practiced without a baseball by the former Lakers great and found out legendary coach Pat Riley used to cancel shootaround and think of fun ways to break up the routine during losing streaks.
"You want to get people that have been through it and not be a hard head and think you know everything," said Mattingly, who added he feels lucky the team entered Thursday only one game back of the second Wild Card spot. "I've been around the game a little bit and been through a lot of different things and heard guys talk. I just want to get counsel."
Mattingly attributed some of the recent struggles to chemistry, which was altered when the team brought in so many new players over the past couple of months. He said the team needs to relax, get back to basics and then "put the hard hat on."
Unsure of why the team can't buy a run right now, he was confident in what will fix things.
"I think winning solves anything," he said.
Jansen expected to get final clearance on Friday
LOS ANGELES -- Closer Kenley Jansen will meet with doctors Friday to get his final clearance to return when the Dodgers take on the Nationals on Tuesday.
Jansen has been sidelined with a recurrence of an irregular heartbeat and he's been practicing and throwing as normal lately, except he's been doing it before the rest of the team takes the field. The closer is on blood-thinning medication and manager Don Mattingly said he feels good about Jansen making it back for his target return date.
The team could get Scott Elbert back even sooner, Mattingly said. The lefty, who has been out since Aug. 27 with left elbow inflammation, will throw a simulated game Friday and he will be ready to return if all goes well.
As for lefty Ted Lilly, who has been out since May with left shoulder inflammation, the veteran was scheduled to throw a simulated game Thursday, but it was pushed back. Mattingly wouldn't say whether or not there was a setback, but said Lilly was scheduled to meet with doctors Thursday night before weighing his options regarding whether it is worth coming back.
Ethier hits second as Mattingly tinkers with lineup
LOS ANGELES -- Trying to find some production on offense, manager Don Mattingly made another change to his lineup for Thursday's opener against the Cardinals by flipping Andre Ethier and Shane Victorino in the lineup.
Ethier hit in the second spot while Victorino batted sixth.
With the Dodgers facing a righty in Lance Lynn on Thursday, Mattingly said he made the move based on the matchup and thinks he will switch them back when they face their next lefty, which will be Saturday against Jaime Garcia.
Ethier, who is 0-for-8 batting second this year, is hitting .330 against righties compared with .223 against lefties. Victorino, a switch-hitter, is batting .306 against lefties compared with .238 against righties.
On Wednesday, Mattingly flip-flopped Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez in the batting order, moving Kemp up to third and Gonzalez into the cleanup spot. They stayed in those spots for Thursday's game.
Alex Angert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.