It took Don Mattingly a little extra effort to find his way to the field at Dodger Stadium on Monday.
After five years of breezing through the home team’s clubhouse, Mattingly was learning the layout of the opposing team’s setup as he managed his first game with the Marlins against the Dodgers.
“I had so many good experiences here it’s hard to point to one of them,” Mattingly said. “It’s a little different. I compare it to when I went back to Yankee Stadium with the Dodgers. But it’s great to come back and hopefully our guys can win a couple of games here.”
Surrounded by members of the local media, Mattingly greeted plenty of the stadium employees and mingled with acquaintances he made during his tenure as managers of one of baseball’s storied franchises.
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Mattingly led the Dodgers to winning seasons each of his five seasons in L.A. and National League West division titles each of the past three years.
Mattingly said one of his biggest regrets is not leading the Dodgers to the World Series or a world championship.
The Dodgers’ first division title under Mattingly ended with a berth in the National League Championship Series. But the next two ended in disappointment with the Dodgers losing in the Division Series.
“It’s obviously nice to be back in L.A. and see a lot of the great people that I met here and built relationships with,” Mattingly said. “Pretty much everything here was a positive experience except, obviously, taking it to the next level.”
Mattingly and the Cardinals’ Mike Matheny are the only two current managers with 90-plus win seasons each of the past three seasons.
Mattingly ranks third behind Matheny and the Pirates’ Clint Hurdle for winning percentage for a manager since 2013.
Mattingly said he has felt more confident in his first season with the Marlins having the experience of his time with the Dodgers as opposed to his first year in L.A. as a rookie manager.
“You learn you don’t know that much and you have to keep getting better all the time,” Mattingly said. “That’s where I’ll always be grateful to the Dodgers for the opportunity and getting the chance to get started.”
Mattingly relished the opportunity to coach players such as Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw when he was only starting to become one of baseball’s best pitchers.
One such player he is still enjoying working with is Dee Gordon.
Gordon led the NL in stolen bases and triples during a breakout All-Star season in 2014 under Mattingly before signing with the Marlins.
Gordon followed it up last season in Miami with his historic season winning a Gold Glove, batting title and again leading the majors in stolen bases.
“I never doubted Dee,” Mattingly said. “What I always liked about him was his swing. You have to remember he was 140-something pounds when he started and now he’s brought it up to about 170. This is a kid that’s put on a lot of mature strength and his speed tools aren’t going away. That’s something that makes you feel really good about what he can do.”
Mattingly said he doesn’t feel any less pressure to win in Miami than he did in Los Angeles.
“I think you feel the same pressure to win here as I did on the other side,” Mattingly said. “As a manager or a coach you want to win all the time. When your team doesn’t play well you feel that. I’ve loved managing all the time. This is a young club we think is talented. It has a little ways to go, but I think we can be very competitive. ”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Mattingly said Mike Dunn will start his rehab throwing program Thursday. Dunn has not played yet with a left forearm injury that landed him on the disabled list just before the season began.
▪ Mattingly also said that Edwin Jackson, placed on the DL on April 19 with a right triceps strain, has begun throwing as well.
▪ Martin Prado is expected to rejoin the team in L.A. on Tuesday. Prado missed his fourth consecutive game Monday after being placed on the paternity list. Prado’s wife gave birth to their first child this past Friday prompting him to return to Miami during the San Francisco series.
▪ Tuesday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (1-2, 4.80 ERA) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 1.50 ERA), 10:10 p.m., Dodger Stadium.
▪ Wednesday: Marlins RHP Jarred Cosart (0-1, 7.98 ERA) vs. LHP Scott Kazmir (1-1, 6.63 ERA), 10:10 p.m., Dodger Stadium.