Don Mattingly pranked James Loney at the 2009 trade deadline.

NEW YORK — The news here should probably be that Don Mattingly hasn’t told Yasiel Puig that he will or will not be traded, but then that’s not really saying much. (Others have written about the possibility of Puig being traded recently.)

That isn’t necessarily a manager’s job, though; the manager typically only delivers the news once there’s news to be delivered.

Mattingly knew this in 2009, when he was the Dodgers’ hitting coach and first baseman James Loney was the subject of trade rumors. The Dodgers’ reported targets at the time were San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and pitcher Heath Bell. The Dodgers had just begun a series in Atlanta on July 31, 2009 when Mattingly decided to have some fun at Loney’s expense in the middle of the game.

“I got (Loney) off the field because there was a bunch of speculation about him,” Mattingly said. “It wasn’t going to happen. They were like reporting it. I got him off the field and told him Joe (Torre, the Dodgers’ manager) wanted to talk to him. I said, ‘you might want to take your bats with you.’ He got in there. Joe was like, ‘Donnie’s messing with you.’

“Poor James.”

The Dodgers ended up trading Loney for Adrian Gonzalez three years later.

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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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A content James Loney returns to Dodger Stadium.

James Loney

James Loney was drafted 19th overall by the Dodgers in 2002, and played in Los Angeles from 2006-12. (Getty Images)


Dodgers pitcher J.P. Howell and Tampa Bay Rays first baseman James Loney were sitting in opposite clubhouses Friday. They were never traded for each other, but they have effectively swapped spots: Loney appeared in parts of seven seasons for the Dodgers from 2006-12, while Howell pitched for the Rays from 2006-12.

Both said the same thing about playing in Tampa.

“You always want to be yourself. (Manager Joe Maddon) is real big on that,” Loney said.

Howell elaborated: “Sometimes where people [on other teams] give up on (players), they go to Tampa and they get another chance, and they’re allowed freedom to be themselves, create who they want to be when they first started their career. … That’s what happened in my case.”

That seems to be the case with Loney, too.

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Stan Kasten wants you to know the Dodgers aren’t trying to buy a championship.

Here’s one quote that did not make any of the 10 blog posts or two stories I filed from Dodger Stadium yesterday. It’s from Stan Kasten.

“I want to stress … we continue to believe in the importance of building a foundation through scouting and player development,” Kasten said. “We won’t be what we want to be until we build the system of players.”

“The great advantage of this ownership is, we can do both at the same time.”

Sounds a little utopian, right? Let’s take a look at the hit the Dodgers’ farm system just absorbed.

In acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Carl Crawford, Joe Blanton, Josh Beckett, Nick Punto, Randy Choate and Brandon League,here’s what the Dodgers sacrificed from their system:
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James Loney’s interesting time as a Dodger is up.

During his daily pregame press briefing, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was asked for his best James Loney story.

“Oh God,” he sighed. Sounded like there were a few to choose from.

Mattingly picked one from a couple years back, when Larry Bowa was the Dodgers’ third-base coach, and James did “something on the field” that prompted Bowa to pull Loney aside in a tunnel leading into the Dodgers’ clubhouse.

“I know I’ve told you a hundred times…” Bowa said, in Mattingly’s words.

Loney’s response: “Well, I guess one-hundred and one.”

It was an appropriate anecdote for a player whose sense of humor was at times his best asset this season. Like on Friday, when Loney was asked why he was scratched from the lineup, as trade rumors swirled and Adrian Gonzalez was being scratched from the lineup in Boston.

“I don’t have good numbers against (Nate) Eovaldi,” Loney said. “I’m 0-for-0.”

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