- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 21, 2009

PHILADELPHIA | Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly said Tuesday the Washington Nationals asked Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti for permission to speak to Mattingly about their managerial opening.

The former Yankees first baseman also spoke to the Cleveland Indians by phone about their opening and said the Nationals are “willing to wait until after the World Series to start.”

Mattingly’s name is the most recognizable in a search that so far has generated little public attention.

Former Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin, who worked with Nationals GM Mike Rizzo in Arizona and has discussed the job with him, is also interviewing for the Houston Astros’ job. Ex-Mets manager Bobby Valentine, who major league sources believe would jump at the chance to manage again, also is interviewing for the Cleveland job. Buck Showalter, another former Diamondbacks manager with connections to Rizzo, is also said by major league sources to be interested in the job, though the Nationals have not contacted him.

Mattingly has been on manager Joe Torre’s coaching staff since he was with the Yankees and had been thought to be Torre’s likely successor when he retires. But that isn’t stopping him from checking into other openings.

He said the best tool he has to measure an organization is the strength of its young pitchers. He had good things to say about the Nationals’ prospects.

“[Their arms] are pretty good, actually,” Mattingly said. “The young kid, [Jordan] Zimmermann, I know he’s having surgery and stuff, but he’s got one of those arms that, when we see it during the season, it’s like, ‘Wow.’ Young guy, good arm, attacks, throws strikes with all his pitches. You look at things - and again, I haven’t gone deep into anybody. You’re talking what-ifs. But you see the surface.”

There has been some question about whether Mattingly would take on a rebuilding job - or even would have to if the Dodgers present a possibility for him. But he quoted fellow Dodgers coach Larry Bowa (whose name also has come up as possible managerial candidate), saying, “When the opportunity knocks [to manage], you knock the door down.”

“You listen to everyone,” Mattingly said. “I’m flattered there’s some organizations out there that think I’m capable of it or at least talked to me about it. You get to know them, they get to know you and you see where it goes from there.”

• Ben Goessling can be reached at bgoessling@washingtontimes.com.

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