Ned Colletti was in a chatty mood Friday.
Did he sound dour? No. Philosophical? Yes.
So much so that it was easy to miss this nugget of wisdom, which the general manager dropped when he was asked if the Dodgers’ 5-12 stretch since Aug. 26 has caught him by surprise: “I try not to ever be surprised,” he said, “because I accept every day for what it brings.”
It’s easy to see where he’s coming from. One day, your cleanup hitter is James Loney. Next it’s Adrian Gonzalez. One day, you’re working for Frank McCourt. The next day, it’s Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson.
Beyond that hard-worn wisdom, Colletti offered a diagnosis of what he’s seen during the Dodgers’ untimely slide down the standings.
“I think there’s an adjustment that goes on,” he said. “I think no matter how good a player is, they do press when they’re in this spot. They try and have people accept them, and feel good about them being there, get comfortable right away, and sometimes it takes a little bit longer to do that. Adrian’s not hitting for average like he typically does, but how many games has he played? (18) How many RBIs does he have? (13) That’s not bad.”
Colletti cautioned against judging the Dodgers’ new acquisitions too soon. Saturday marks the two-week anniversary of the nine-player trade with the Boston Red Sox and, even though the Dodgers have been all but mathematically eliminated from winning their division in that time, Colletti is looking beyond this season just as much as he was when he announced the arrival of Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto.
“I think we’re in a better place today, the last couple weeks nonwithstanding, than we would have been had we stayed pat,” he said. “And I think going forward we’re going to be a lot better.”
Manager Don Mattingly is under contract through 2013. Even as some fans call for his head, the recent turn of events hasn’t convinced Colletti that a change needs to be made.
“I think he’s done a really good job of keeping it together,” Colletti said of Mattingly. “There’s never an excuse. He doesn’t give any and he doesn’t take any. I don’t have any doubt that our efforts every day are to the utmost. I think that’s one of the main jobs of the manager, is to make sure that guys play and the guys are up to it. I know that when you get beat it’s not a happy room. It’s not one that people take it lightly and cavalier. It means something to everybody. It’s a credit to him and his staff that they keep that up.
Of the new personalities Mattingly has been presented with, Colletti said, “I don’t think it’s been tough for him to navigate. … When you manage people, you learn who they are, and how the best way is to help them achieve maximum skill level. I think that takes a little bit of time. He’s so good with personalities and with people, that it’s probably for him a much easier transition than it would be for somebody who’s not got his personality to deal with.”