Rumors have surfaced over the past week about Don Mattingly’s job security as the Los Angeles Dodgers manager, with the boys in blue currently 7.0 games back in the National League West and in last place almost two months into the season.
New ownership and its $200 million payroll that features a star-studded lineup put “World Series or Bust” type expectations on this ball club from the start. Injuries, poor execution and just flat-out bad baseball have gotten the Dodgers to this point of desperation.
Mattingly showed a sense of urgency before Wednesday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, with a rare lineup change. It’s nothing new to see Andre Ethier get an occasional day off with a left-hander on the mound, but Ethier wasn’t penciled into Wednesday’s lineup with a right-hander on the hill for Milwaukee. Initial thoughts were that maybe Ethier was being bothered by some sort of injury, however, that wasn’t the case.
Mattingly didn’t hold back anything about his decision to sit Ethier when meeting with reporters during pregame.
“I’m putting out my lineup that I feel is going to be most competitive and going to compete the hardest” Mattingly said.
That’s about as clear as a message as you’re going to get from a manager. The recent rumors about Mattingly have clearly been taken personal. He knows that his job isn’t safe if the losing continues, so if he feels someone isn’t giving it a 100 percent than all power to him for putting his foot down.
Ethier is hitting just .264 with four home runs and 15 RBIs this season. He isn’t the only Dodger struggling, though. Matt Kemp is hitting .265 with two home runs and 16 RBIs, but Mattingly obviously doesn’t see any issue with his effort.
The job of a manager is to get the best out of his players and this message was an indication that he wasn’t getting that. This could be just another managerial tactic that we’ve seen before, where a player gets a wakeup call from his manager, but who knows. What we do know is that if Mattingly ends up losing his job he’ll make sure that his players on the field are fighting for him till the very last out.
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