Mattingly, Bowa stress teamwork in Thursday conference call

Updated: November 8, 2007, 8:09 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- It's all about teamwork. That was the message delivered Thursday by new Los Angeles Dodgers coaches Don Mattingly and Larry Bowa.

Three days after Joe Torre was introduced as manager of the Dodgers and announced that Mattingly and Bowa would be part of his staff, the two stressed the concept of team first on a conference call.

"I know what Joe's all about. He wants to win," said Bowa, who will be the Dodgers' third-base coach. "He's got a presence about him. Joe handled 25 guys as well as I've ever seen by any manager. Joe has a way of getting people on the same page.

"It's going to take work. It's going to take commitment. It's not about individual performances -- it's about moving that column on the left side."

Mattingly and Bowa both served under Torre in New York. Torre left the Yankees after 12 years as manager on Oct. 18, turning down a one-year offer to return. He agreed to a three-year, $13 million deal with the Dodgers two weeks later.

Bowa, a former big league manager himself, didn't bring up the Dodgers' late-season collapse this year, when veteran second baseman Jeff Kent alluded to what he saw as a problem with younger players not doing the little things necessary to win.

But in essence, Bowa said nothing of the sort would be tolerated in the future.

He did say he was familiar with several Los Angeles veterans, adding: "Those are winners, they know how to play the game."

Otherwise, Bowa said: "It's not going to take us that long, believe me. The biggest thing is getting inside their heads a little bit, let them know the game is played not only for stats, but to win. Do the little thing. The sooner that we can get rid of the individual thing, the better this team will be."

Regarding the coaches, Bowa said: "We're in this together. We're not in this thing on an ego trip, stay out of my area. Joe has created that kind of atmosphere. Sometimes you get wrapped up in what area you're in. I think that's what makes a good coaching staff -- anything we can do to help each other out. That's what it's all about."

Mattingly served as hitting coach with the Yankees for three years before being the bench coach last season.

"As far as I know, Joe and I talked about doing the hitting this year," Mattingly said. "That's perfect for me. I know some of the names."

Mattingly said he plans to study tapes and speak with some players before spring training.

"Start a relationship, know how they think, what's going on when you're going good, what's going on when you're going bad," Mattingly said. "Our approach really is to get a good pitch to hit, something to hit hard.

"There's a different approach for different guys. The three years that I did the hitting, we never talked about walking. We talked about getting good pitches to hit."

The 46-year-old Mattingly was one of three finalists to succeed Torre as manager of the Yankees, but Joe Girardi got the job.

"I still have aspirations to manage one day," Mattingly said. "I'm very happy to be doing what I'm doing. I'm not on a timetable to do anything. I love working with Joe. I'm really committed to working with these players. I'm coming out to try and help get this thing over the top."

Torre is 67, so it's possible he'll retire after completing his three-year contract, perhaps leaving the job to Mattingly. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said at Torre's introductory news conference he realizes Torre might not hold the job very long and he could see grooming somebody else for the job.

"He counts on you to do your work," Mattingly said of Torre. "Then he asks you questions about what's going on with this guy or that guy. For me, it was automatic -- he asked me if I wanted to come with him, I said, `I'm in.'"

Bowa, who turns 62 next month, said the main thing he wants is to work with a team that has a chance to win.

"The bottom line for me at this stage of my career, I want to play in October," he said.

General managers decided Thursday that first- and third-base coaches will wear some sort of head protection next season, a move that came four months after Mike Coolbaugh died after being struck in the neck by a line drive during a minor league game July 22.

"They're just trying to take safety measures," Bowa said. "I prefer to wear an insert. With an ear flap, I would definitely think it would be a hindrance, it would get in the way."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press