At 4:57 p.m. on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers sent out a press release with this headline in big, bold letters: “MATTINGLY TO RETURN AFTER THE ALL-STAR BREAK.” Donnie Baseball is coming to LA.
Don Mattingly, left, watches the Dodgers practice at spring training with manager Joe Torre. (photo courtesy of Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers)
Don Mattingly, the former All-Star first baseman, batting instructor, and bench coach for the New York Yankees, was going to sit out the entire season due to personal matters. Instead, he will head to LA in a matter of weeks.
This is no small thing. Mattingly, by all reports, was a well-liked and respected coach in New York, and the Yanks regularly pounded teams with their offensive power, which was fine-tuned by the Indiana native. Since Mattingly left the Yankees, that same offense, with pretty much the same players, has seen a dramatic decline in output this season.
“We’re glad Don can return to the staff,” said Dodger general manager Ned Colletti in a prepared statement. “We’re also very thankful to Mike, who stepped up in Don’s absence and who will continue to contribute to the organization.”
“Mike” is Mike Easler, who was the interim hitting coach. He will stay within the Dodger organization, according to the press release.
Mattingly, throughout his coaching and playing careers, has been known to be a student of the game and a very hard worker. Whenever I watched the Yankees on TV, there was always a shot of Donnie Baseball, as he's known by his fans, standing in the dugout, holding a little black book of notes on opposing pitchers, and whispering advice into the ear of one of his players. Then after someone got a big hit, you'd often see that player head straight for Mattingly so they could discuss what went right. Dodger players will undoubtedly benefit from the same baseball smarts and work ethic.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.