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
"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
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."