Mattingly Begins his Managerial Career

The Arizona Fall League is set to begin its 19th season on October 12 with 2011 Dodgers manager Don Mattingly as skipper of the Phoenix Desert Dogs. However, Mesa handed him an 8-3 loss to open the 32-game schedule that will culminate with the one-game championship at Scottsdale Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 20. The league's annual Rising Stars Game, an All-Star game of sorts, will Saturday, Nov. 6.

Mattingly has eight Dodgers minor league players on his club, along with players from the Yankees, Braves, Marlins and Athletics, among the 180 players attending what's been called Major League Baseball's "finishing school."

Dodgers players include:

LHP Scott Elbert, Albuquerque
RHP Javy Guerra, Chattanooga 
RHP Jon Link, Albuquerque 
RHP Justin Miller, Chattanooga
C Matt Wallach, Chattanooga
SS Ivan De Jesus, Albuquerque
1B Jerry Sands, Chattanooga
OF Trayvon Robinson, Chattanooga

DeJesus, bypassed for a September callup, will see playing time at third base. Mattingly said it's partly because he is required to play other clubs' prospects at middle infield, but there's also DeJesus' need to become more versatile and the Dodgers' uncertainty over 37-year-old Casey Blake's ability to play a full season. He had a singled in two trips. Trayvon Robinson singled home a run in three at bats.


Mattingly said Elbert, who missed most of the season with unspecified personal problems, will be used exclusively in relief and has no restrictions. He allowed a run in relief. Link, a reliever this year, started the first game and allowed four hits and a run over his three innings of work. Miller took the loss, allowing six hits and five runs in the fourth inning, one of them to former Dodgers standout Andrew Lambo.

Mattingly, a former Yankee, pointed out the New York players on his squad, told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, "These kids, you can tell what system they're from, I came through the Yankee system and they taught us a certain way and you can see it right away," said Mattingly. "You see those kids, they have a way of handling themselves like they're taught, I don't know how to describe it, but you can see it.

"It's one of those things that we should strive for, getting that feeling back with the Dodgers. They had discipline over there, they had structure. Haven't seen it from their Minor League side. Brandon Laird told me he went 4-for-4 one time and they jumped him afterward for not running out a pop fly in the fifth at-bat. Good day, but, you gotta run.

"Just learning the guys' names has been a battle. We've had workouts for five days and it's a little like a quick Spring Training. And for me, it's been good. Now I've got to do it all. Just like the players, I've got things to get better at. And just like them, at the end of the season you're beat up and you haven't been home and you might not be looking forward to another eight weeks, but for me logistically it's good to make the decisions and run the games, from writing the lineup card to making the day's schedule.

"For the players, it's about development, not winning, but you want to play the game right. I tell them that there may be eight people in the stands and it's like a 'B' game on the back fields of Spring Training, but you still want to show people you can play. I've been in Spring Training meetings and you'll hear, 'That guy had a good fall.' So even though nobody's here, the people who matter know what happens here."

Mattingly indicated that Rick Honeycutt [pitching], Ken Howell [bullpen] and Tim Wallach [either third base or hitting] will be on his coaching staff. There are also indications that third-base coach Larry Bowa and first-base coach Mariano Duncan probably won't return. Mattingly said he understands the value of having a former Major League manager as his bench coach, saying he's "not afraid of someone with experience."

"It hasn't been easy from a friendship standpoint," conceded Mattingly, who also coached with Bowa on Torre's Yankees staff. "Ned is the GM, my boss, and he's got certain things maybe he didn't like the way things went or thinks there are areas we could improve."

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