Reports: Don Mattingly to return in 2014.

Andre Ethier Don Mattingly

Don Mattingly will manage the Dodgers in 2014, according to multiple reports. (Associated Press photo)

Even before a Source With Knowledge of Don Mattingly’s Situation anonymously confirmed that Don Mattingly’s situation looked good for 2014, it had come to this: The Dodgers doing anything less than picking up the team option on his contract would be a surprise.

Whether it was Ned Colletti or Stan Kasten or Mark Walter or Magic Johnson, anybody I spoke to recently about Mattingly’s performance was upbeat. Not tepid. Not cautious. Always positive, though always unwilling to go on the record about 2014 — anonymously or otherwise. (In fact, Kasten gave the Daily News a very cold shoulder — the New York Daily News — in a typical exchange about the subject yesterday.)

So it came as little surprise last night when reports surfaced that Mattingly is indeed coming back next year.

There’s still no mention of who will manage the Dodgers beyond next season. Maybe that hasn’t been decided yet.

There’s also an important, lingering question of when it was decided that Mattingly was still the right man for the job. What was the tipping point in the front office’s thought process? Johnson’s World-Series-Or-Bust attitude apparently didn’t apply to the manager, but was reaching the NLCS the minimum requirement for picking up Mattinglys option? The timing of Tuesday’s reports suggests it’s possible.

For now, we know that Mattingly doesn’t feel that he is managing for his job. That’s a significant vote of confidence. It means more than any platitudes issued through the media. It means Mattingly can relax enough to try to win a series, knowing his job doesn’t depend on it, in reality if not the court of public opinion.

What was Kenley Jansen doing on the mound at the end of Game 3?

Kenley Jansen

Kenley Jansen recorded the final out of Game 3, a non-save situation in the Dodgers’ 13-6 win. (Getty Images)

Don Mattingly‘s decision to use Kenley Jansen to record the final out of Game 3 of the National League Division Series has at least one detractor: Pedro Martinez.

Jansen struck out Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann on four pitches to close out a 13-6 win. To Martinez, who spent the first two years of his 18-year major-league career with the Dodgers, that was a sign of panic.

“With all due respect to [Dodgers manager] Mr. Mattingly, I did not see the need for [closer] Kenley Jansen to be in [Game 3],” Martinez said Sunday on TBS. “I did not see the need for Paco Rodriguez to face more than one batter, he’s a specialty lefty. I can only imagine seeing this kind of scenario in a World Series game, tied in the ninth inning. I don’t know what Mattingly is going to do [then] if he panics in a game with a seven-run lead. This looks like more of a panic-time than anything else.”

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.”
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Daily Distractions: Back injury puts Jerry Hairston Jr.’s playoff availability in jeopardy.

Jerry Hairston Jr.

Dodgers veteran Jerry Hairston Jr. is batting .211 this season in a reserve role. (Associated Press photo)

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti told the “Petros and Money Show” on 570-AM (KCAL) yesterday that Jerry Hairston Jr. is fighting a back issue that might keep him off the Dodgers’ playoff roster.

“It’s something we’re debating,” Colletti said.

Hairston, one of seven Dodgers with World Series experience, is batting just .143 in the second half of the season in a reserve role.

Colletti responded to a question specifically about whether he would choose the experienced Hairston over younger shortstop Dee Gordon.

“We’re also debating Dee,” Colletti continued. “He brings speed to the game. If you watched our games against Cincinnati a couple weeks ago, you saw the effect of a Billy Hamilton. If you paid attention when we weren’t playing him you saw the game-changing aspect of it. He’s somebody we’re thinking about.”

Colletti added that he’s hopeful that Andre Ethier will be healthy enough that “we’ll be able to use him to some extent starting Thursday.” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that Ethier is likely to be used in a pinch-hitting role at the outset.

Some bullet points for a World Vegetarian Day:
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Daily Distractions: Don Mattingly’s job seems safe.

Don Mattingly

Don Mattingly’s contract expires at the end of the season. He and the Dodgers have not discussed extending it to 2014. (Associated Press photo)

Apparently it’s time to talk about Don Mattingly‘s job security again.

ESPN.com’s Buster Olney told Steve Mason and John Ireland on 710-AM yesterday that “If they [the Dodgers] lose to the Braves in the first round or lose to the Cardinals in the first round, I don’t think he’s going to survive. … I think they would make a change.”

Olney’s prediction was based on how the industry regards Mattingly’s in-game managerial skill. In that area, there’s room for criticism (or improvement, depending on how you choose to look at it). But room enough to not renew Mattingly’s contract?

FoxSports.com’s Jon Morosi wrote that Matt Kemp is “sure” that Mattingly will be back next year no matter what.

Our Tom Hoffarth caught up with team president Stan Kasten recently, and Kasten offered nothing less than a ringing endorsement. “I’m glad we had him at the start, glad we had him in the middle and glad we have him now,” Kasten said of Mattingly.

If there is any uncertainty about Mattingly’s future with the Dodgers, Kasten and general manager Ned Colletti are doing a tremendous job hiding it from players and the media. While that might be the case, it seems unlikely that Mattingly’s job depends on the Dodgers’ playoff performance.

There are skills that go into the manager’s job that can’t be taught. As Morosi points out, Mattingly’s background as a player and his demeanor as a person fit almost perfectly with the Dodgers’ roster as currently constructed. That will count for a lot. In-game strategy? That can be learned in time, and it’s reasonable to guess the Dodgers will give Mattingly more time.

Some bullet points for a New Zealand Dominion Day:
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Mattingly coy about when Brian Wilson will be called up

Don Mattingly didn’t rule out the possibility of Brian Wilson joining the Dodgers on Friday, but the Dodgers manager refused to allow whether Wilson would make a fifth minor league appearance or not. The former San Francisco Giants closer pitched in multiple innings Tuesday night for the first time since returning from Tommy John surgery.

Wilson allowed a single in 1 1/3 scoreless innings for Triple-A Albuquerque, but the Dodgers are mum on what the next step will be and who Wilson may replace on the roster when he is called up to the parent club.

“I didn’t say he wasn’t ready,” Mattingly said. “I don’t think we’re willing to talk about anything with Brian as far as what’s going to happen, what we’re going to do. We’ve talked about different scenarios, but they’re all fluid for me in the sense of when’s it going to be? What’s happened in the bullpen before then, after then?”

Daily Distractions: Contemplating Kershaw contracts; Dodgers-Yankees; Yasiel Puig.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw is looking for a lot of money in his contract extension. But we knew that already, right? (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers are talking about a contract extension. One side or both might be getting antsy.

At least, that’s often the case when the terms of a deal are leaked to the media: To achieve something that negotiation cannot.

Kershaw said the leak came from the Dodgers’ camp, not his. Regardless, there’s not a whole lot we can read into the reports on CBSsports.com and FoxSports.com, mainly because the two stories differ on the dollar amounts being discussed and the likelihood of a deal happening in the near future.

If — and this is a fairly big if — Kershaw is seeking “about $225 million,” as CBSsports.com reports, he probably wouldn’t prefer the 10-year or 12-year contract structures mentioned on FoxSports.com, which would almost certainly lock in Kershaw to a longer term than he’s seeking. Those terms were more likely to have been proposed by the Dodgers. Again, this assumes the two reports are both drawing their separate information from reliable sources.

Is it wise to invest 12 years in a 25-year-old pitcher who has already thrown more than 1,000 major-league innings? In any player?

These are legitimate questions here. The Dodgers have probably asked them internally. At some point, we might discover what conclusion they reach. Does Kershaw think he’s worth 12 years and $300 million? Ask him yourself in about an hour.

Some bullet points for an Autistic Pride Day:

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Daily Distractions: Debating Don Mattingly’s future.

Don Mattingly

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is on the hot seat in the public eye. (Getty Images)

If you woke up today and read anything about the Dodgers, you might have noticed that one question sits on many lips: Will Don Mattingly be fired?

“Convinced,” writes one.

“I have swung to the side that thinks he will,” writes another.

There was also the more nuanced “it seems very unlikely that Mattingly will make it through the entire season at the helm though, but my prediction here is that he survives another seven days.”

We also had our choice this morning of “I don’t care” and “I do care.” Having options is nice.

Some even believe that the pitching matchups for the Dodgers’ three-game series in Milwaukee (Kershaw-Gallardo tonight; Greinke-Burgos on Tuesday and Ryu-Peralta on Wednesday) have something to do with this debate. Then again, as Baseball Prospectus notes on its daily podcast, “the idea that ‘we’ll give him one more series and see if he turns things around’ – either he’s the right guy or he isn’t! How much new information does that give you about whether he’s the guy that you want for the rest of the season?”

All we know is that it’s too late for the old cliché of “I don’t want it to become a distraction.” It’s become a distraction – if not inside the clubhouse, certainly outside the clubhouse – and acknowledging distractions is what we do every morning.

Some bullet points for a Monday:
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Daily Distractions: Why Zack Greinke probably won’t dive tonight.

Zack Greinke

Maybe the only way Zack Greinke hits the turf is if he’s pulled down. (Associated Press photo)

Zack Greinke can recall diving exactly once on a baseball field. All he remembered Tuesday was that it was on a bunt attempt by Gerald Laird, maybe in 2009, and it didn’t end well for him or the Kansas City Royals.

After some digging, we believe the play occurred in the second inning of a game between the Royals and Detroit Tigers on July 8, 2009. Josh Anderson was on second base, having hit a ground-rule double. Laird attempted to bunt Anderson to third base but popped the ball up toward the pitcher’s mound.

Greinke dove for the ball and missed. He tried throwing to first base to retire Laird, but Laird wound up with a single. Since there’s no video on YouTube or MLB.com, we’ll rely on this descriptive quote from Greinke, courtesy of that night’s Associated Press game story: “That was a stupid play, because it was a terrible bunt. If I catch that, it is a double play, and even then, I made a five-hop throw to first.”

On Tuesday, Greinke said that he could have caught the ball, and turned the double play, if he didn’t dive.

“I feel at least 90 percent of all dives are unneeded,” he added.

Why is all this relevant? Well, Greinke is under strict orders not to dive tonight when he returns from a fractured clavicle to start against the Washington Nationals. The pitcher assured Dodgers manager Don Mattingly that this wouldn’t be a problem, and the play from four years ago is a large reason why.

Also, it was satisfying to uncover the dive Greinke was referring to, like the guy who figured out what day Ice Cube was rapping about in the song “It Was a Good Day.”

Some Hump Day bullet points:
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Daily Distractions: Is Josh Beckett headed to the disabled list?

Josh Beckett

Josh Beckett is 0-5, and the Dodgers are 1-7 in games that he starts. Maybe it’s a good time for the DL. (Associated Press photo)


Josh Beckett really didn’t want to talk about his injuries after yesterday’s game.

We know that he tweaked his groin covering first base on an Adam LaRoche ground ball in the third inning. We know that he’s dealing with other injuries. We don’t know what part of his body they’re affecting, how serious they are, or when he started feeling them — we just know that Beckett isn’t right.

But we knew that already.

“I’m in one of those ruts where if they hit the ball soft it’s a hit, if they hit the ball hard, it’s a hit,” Beckett said after the Dodgers’ 6-2 loss to the Washington Nationals.

Will he need to go on the disabled list?

“I’m healthy enough to pitch,” he said.

That might not stop the Dodgers from putting Beckett on the DL as a “precaution.” Sometimes that’s baseball code for, “even though you can pitch, we’d rather you not,” and being 0-5 with a 5.19 earned-run average constitutes just cause.

More injury-related bullet points:
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