Don Mattingly knows exactly what his Los Angeles Dodgers are in for. Mattingly was long a part of the much-hated New York Yankees, who have long drawn ire from folks irritated that they purchase their roster. Now his Dodgers are in a similar boat, and he hasn’t shied away from talking about the inflated expectations and all that will come with them in the coming season.
Don Mattingly joined Fox Sports Radio with Petros and Money to discuss what he’s looking for in spring training, how this year’s spring compares to last year’s, the performance of Clayton Kershaw, developing team chemistry and having Mark McGwire as the hitting coach.
When you were a player, what did you want to get out of spring training?:
“Early on you’re wanting to show. When you say it’s not interesting, it is interesting from a couple different standpoints. … Our guys that we kind of know where they’re going to be, where they’re going to play, those guys are getting ready. They’re in preparation mode; we’re going to give them X amount of at-bats every day. … But for the younger guys, six-year free agents, guys that we signed that could be insurance guys, our younger guys coming out of the minor leagues, it’s a chance for them to play big-league competition and show what they can do.”
Given all that has happened in the past year with this organization, how much different is this spring training compared to last year?:
“There’s a lot of similarities in this spring compared to last spring, but then all the things you mentioned. Obviously a new ownership group went out and spent a lot of money with trades over the course of last summer and then continued on into the winter and free agency, bringing Zack over. … So the basics of camp, of getting guys ready, getting them in shape … a lot of the same stuff. But obviously with the roster that we bring in, with the amount of talent, the expectations rise. And you just have to prepare that group for what we’re going to go through. Like we talked about early on, we are going to be the bad guys. When you have a roster that makes this kind of money, we’ll hear the negative in the stands. If we win, we’re supposed to. If we lose, we’re overrated and overpaid. That’s just something that’s going to be here, and our guys need to be ready for it.”
What do you see in what Clayton Kershaw’s done this spring?:
“Clayton’s starts have really been pretty good. The first two, his stuff seemed to be really sharp. He punches out seven in his second outing against the Angels. … His stuff’s been good. His last time out, he got hit a little bit more. And Clayton’s not happy. That’s just one of those things that you appreciate about him. … He expects himself to be really good every time he walks out there.”
Is there a such thing as harping on team chemistry and expectations too much?:
“I think there’s a lot of talk about it. We don’t talk about it that much. We’re really comfortable with the guys we have in the locker room. The chemistry thing has never really been an issue here. … So those are things that, team-building type stuff that you do in spring training, we would do every spring.”
On his players lauding Mark McGwire as their hitting coach:
“Mac is a guy who comes with huge credibility with guys. He’s a guy that you probably won’t notice much unless guys talk about him, because he’s not going to be jumping up and down saying, ‘I’m the hitting coach. I’m the one that helped this guy.’ He’s going to be doing his work, and that’s what I think guys live. … He’s not going to talk so much about the mechanics, he’s going to talk about making sure we understand what Matt Cain is trying to do out there and we understand who we are as hitters.”