Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson praises Don Mattingly, won’t to commit to manager beyond 2013.

Magic Johnson

Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson wasn’t keen on discussing Don Mattingly’s future with the Dodgers on Thursday. (Getty Images)

Asked if he has decided to bring back manager Don Mattingly, Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson was less than definitive on Thursday.

“We’re going to deal with all contracts after the season,” he said. “Nothing has changed. We understand we’ve got guys that we have to have back, but we’re going to deal with it after the season. Same thing I said two months ago is the same thing I’m saying today.

“That’s between Stan and Ned,” Johnson added. “All we’re going to talk about today is Game 1.”

In a wide-ranging interview prior to Game 1 of the National League Division Series between the Dodgers and Braves, Johnson also praised Mattingly for leading the team into the playoffs for the first time since 2009 after a 30-42 start to the season. Mattingly is in the final year of a three-year contract. The Dodgers have a team option for 2014.

“Don has done an amazing job. Don kept ‘em even keel,” Johnson said. “He kept ‘em pushing. At some point, it can’t be all the manager. That’s when [Yasiel] Puig and Hanley [Ramirez] comes back, Zack [Greinke] comes back. What happened was that they came together. Our problem last year, and my fear was it was still happening early, was that we were not a team yet. We signed Zack. They still didn’t really know each other. Once we started playing well, Hanley came back, Zack came back and started being the pitcher we knew he could be.

“And Don, one thing he did that was really incredible, [Kenley] Jansen to the closer — he made great moves to say, ‘OK, I’ve got to have him closing,’ and that really worked for us. Using some of our young relievers as well. Don’s been pushing the right buttons and it’s paid dividends for us.

“The guys love him, they love playing for him. They all say ‘he’s the nicest, sweetest guy up until the game.’ Just like I am. I love you up until the game, then I tear your heart out.”

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.