5/20/2013 9:22 P.M. ET
Colletti puts onus of Dodgers' woes on players, not skipper
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said his "perspective" on manager Don Mattingly "hasn't changed" and "the players still have to play."
Responding to increasing speculation that Mattingly could soon be fired because the Dodgers are in last place, Colletti said on Monday he believes ownership will be patient and cited last year's Giants, who trailed the Dodgers by 7 1/2 games at one point only to rally and win the World Series.
"Are we concerned? Yeah. Disappointed? Yeah," Colletti said. "We're one-quarter of the way through.
"[But Mattingly] has done fine. He's kept it steady. The players still have to play. It's a danger sign if people stop playing hard. Sometimes I see them play too hard. You have to look at the performance on the field. Are they driving in runners in scoring position? Are they scoring enough? Are they playing good-enough defense? The easy way out is to look at one person."
Even with a staggering number of injuries, especially to a pitching staff that was presumed deep, Colletti said he's been disappointed by the lack of production from a roster consisting of players he believes are in their prime.
"If you sat down at the outset of the season and wrote what we'd expect from each of them -- not career years, just from their track record -- you'd say we'd score a lot of runs," Colletti said. "It's more on the players than anybody."
Colletti said his expectations of players are to "play hard, play smart and play with passion," and for the most part that's what he's seen. He said this roster should score more runs even if Matt Kemp hasn't regained his power after shoulder surgery in October.
"It's a team sport, nine guys in the order," he said. "Teams win a lot of games when somebody is hurt or their production is not what it was. I think we're capable of more power. We have four guys [Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez] capable of 20 home runs, but one [Ramirez] has only played a couple games this year.
"We need to score more runs, be better in the clutch, If we do that, you'll see a different dynamic, including in the 'pen. We're asking them to protect one-run leads every day and that takes a lot. That doesn't mean to give the 'pen a free pass, but it makes a difference. There's no margin for error. If pitchers get offense, they can relax. If the offense scores a lot of runs, the pitchers can relax. When one is challenged, it takes a toll."
Colletti was not with the club over the weekend in Atlanta, where the Dodgers were swept, but he said he planned to join the club in Milwaukee even before the speculation about Mattingly began.
Mattingly keeps focus on team, not job speculation
MILWAUKEE -- As the media speculates about his job security, Don Mattingly said he's managing.
"Any sleeplessness I've had is about our team, not about me," Mattingly said in response to a Fox Sports report that he would be fired later this week.
Mattingly met with general manager Ned Colletti on Monday, but insisted it was about the team and how to get it out of last place.
"To me it's a daily process, just the grind of the team and how we get better," he said. "Do we do things differently or persevere and stay the course? I'm confident in the people we have here. Nothing's different today than any other day. As for the rumors, I talked to Stan [Kasten, club president] the other day and he didn't fire me. Ned didn't say I won't be here."
Mattingly, having watched the managerial circus of the Yankees during the George Steinbrenner years, said he only worries about his team, not his job, even though he did ask the club to pick up a 2014 option last winter and was denied.
"I never get away from my base," he said. "I worry about our team and getting it to perform to the best of its ability."
Mattingly said he had "no idea" if the rumors about his firing are true or "if Ned's on the edge of, 'Donnie, you're the problem.' For me, everything is a baseball decision. If I'm the problem, it's a baseball decision. I don't know what the public perception has to do with it.
"You can change every other week. You can change hitting coaches. How many have they had in the last 10 years? That's helped a lot. It's a great example. At the end of the day, look at it. All it is is change. Make a good decision, a baseball decision."
Mattingly agreed with Colletti that a real tell is the effort of the club.
"If you lose that, you shouldn't be here," he said. "If the guys quit on you and don't play, you should be gone. You lose the clubhouse or they're not playing hard for you, that's it."
Mattingly also sided with Colletti in the opinion that the current roster must turn it around.
"This is our club," he said. "You can't go, 'We're going to tear it down.' What are you going to do? These are the guys you count on and let them do their thing. Magic [Johnson] talks about the NBA playoffs, the superstars have to carry you. [Clayton] Kershaw has to. [Zack] Greinke has to. The big boys have to play better.
"Nick Punto having a great year is really nice, but Punto is not taking us to the promised land. Dee [Gordon], [Mark] Ellis, they're not taking us to the promised land. Adrian [Gonzalez], Matt [Kemp], Hanley [Ramirez] and Andre [Ethier], those guys in the middle of the order you count on to be the run producers. How do you not stay with those guys? We're not going to abandon ship. You can shuffle it around, but at the end of the day it gets back to those guys."
Lilly activated, Magill sent back to Triple-A
MILWAUKEE -- The Dodgers activated veteran Ted Lilly from the 15-day disabled list Monday and optioned rookie Matt Magill to Triple-A Albuquerque.
The move came a day after Magill allowed Atlanta one run in five innings and was in line for his first Major League victory until the bullpen let the game get away.
But Magill has options and the Dodgers apparently want to see if Lilly can return to his form of early last season, when he won his first five decisions, only for his left shoulder to break down and require surgery.
He had gone to the sidelines with a strained rib-cage muscle, only two starts after coming off the disabled list from the healing shoulder. Manager Don Mattingly said Lilly will start Saturday at home against St. Louis, but he was available out of the bullpen Monday and Tuesday against the Brewers.
Magill goes down with no record and a 5.00 ERA in four starts. He said he still has plenty to work on, particularly cutting down the 13 walks in 18 innings. He walked three, but also struck out eight, on Sunday.
Injury updates: Hanley won't be rushed back from DL
MILWAUKEE -- Hanley Ramirez continues to take ground balls and hit, but manager Don Mattingly reiterated that the club will be careful about not rushing the shortstop back from the disabled list before his strained left hamstring is completely healed.
Mattingly also said that Jerry Hairston, healed from a strained left groin muscle but now nursing left knee tendinitis, played in an extended spring game Monday as part of his rehab.
And Scott Elbert continued his rehab assignment for Double-A Chattanooga on Monday with two strikeouts in one perfect inning. But Mattingly said Elbert still needs a little more Minor League action before the club activates him after two elbow operations.
"His velocity still isn't where we want it to be," Mattingly said. "But he's going in the right direction."
• The official scorer changed a ruling from Sunday's game in Atlanta, taking a throwing error away from Dodgers shortstop Nick Punto and giving an infield hit to Andrelton Simmons. That turns an unearned run into an earned run charged to right-hander Matt Magill.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.