GLENDALE, ARIZ. (AP) - Don Mattingly opened his first spring training camp as a major league manager, saying he wasn’t concerned with how his Los Angeles Dodgers wore their hair or what music they played in the clubhouse.
Side issues aside, the rookie manager also made an announcement Wednesday: Clayton Kershaw will start on opening day.
“He has the opportunity to be special,” Mattingly said.
The Dodgers officially appointed Mattingly in mid-September after Torre said he was retiring. Promoted from hitting coach, the 49-year-old former Yankees star takes over a team that went 80-82 last season.
“Not at all. This is a great franchise. We’ve got talent. For me, I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity.”
“There’s been no talk about the ownership situation. There’s no effect in that clubhouse,” he said.
“I’d rather have guys stay in their positions. I’d rather move one guy, not two,” Mattingly said.
Regarding off-the-field items, Mattingly said he’s not worried about the hairstyles of his players. This comes from a former All-Star who had to sit out a game in 1991 under Yankees manager Stump Merrill because of a disagreement over hair length.
Mattingly said he felt he’d been singled out and blind-sided just before a game with a demand to cut his hair, rather than being advised to do so the day before.
“The only thing I have with hair is if it gets in the way,” he said. “If you can’t see the ball, then it’s a problem.”
“I’m not concerned about peripherals unless it’s a problem. I’m concerned that we’re ready to play.”
As a big leaguer, Mattingly said he kept track of all his managers’ traits, both “good and bad.”
Billy Martin was “just a fierce competitor,” he said, yet a leader who took a relatively relaxed approach to spring training.
“But when the bell rang and those games started counting, he was a different animal. I liked that.”
NOTES: The Dodgers open at home, with Kershaw set to start. “It’s an honor Clayton has earned,” general manager Ned Colletti said. “He’s relentless in his pursuit of greatness.” Other pitchers in the LA rotation figure to be Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly and Jon Garland. … Reliever Ronald Belisario failed to arrive from Venezuela, apparently because of visa problems. Belisario showed up five weeks late last year. This year, the Dodgers made sure to work their end of the pitcher’s travel arrangements early, yet he hasn’t been heard from recently, Colletti said. “It’s disappointing. But it’s really his livelihood, from what I can determine. You’d think he’d want to pitch in the big leagues.” As for Belisario’s future, Colletti said, “We’re not washing our hands of him. But we’re certainly not holding a spot open for him.” … Kuroda is scheduled to start the first Cactus League game. … Mattingly said he’s been reading the books of John Wooden. “Looking at one coach, he’s the guy I’ve paid attention to.”
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.
A round eye’s guide into the Chinese world.
This column will cover anything that has anything remotely to do with the game of baseball, from the game itself to mid-summer trades to offseason moves.
Great discoveries in the world of restaurants and chefs fulfill the quest for delicious food and cooking.
World's Ugliest Dog Contest
Spelling Bee finale
Marines train Afghan soldiers
Rolling Thunder 2013
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal