Is Mattingly in line to succeed Torre?

Updated: October 26, 2009, 4:22 PM ET
By Buster Olney | ESPN The Magazine

Don Mattingly was on the short list of managerial candidates in Cleveland, and wasn't hired.

Mattingly
Mattingly

But he is speaking with the Los Angeles Dodgers about his future with that organization, and while it would be premature to say he is regarded as the heir apparent to manager Joe Torre, there may come a day when he will emerge as the leading candidate to replace Torre.

Mattingly has been talking with the Dodgers since the team was eliminated from the National League playoffs by the Phillies, according to sources, and will have more conversations later in the week. Mattingly has made it apparent that he wants to manage; he was a finalist with the Yankees two years ago when Joe Girardi was hired, and then emerged as a candidate with the Indians this year.

Mattingly, 48, had permission to speak with the Indians in the short span between the time the Dodgers played in the Division Series and League Championship Series. The Dodgers were eliminated last week, and on Friday, he began his talks with L.A. about what his future could be with the team. Mattingly currently serves as the team's hitting coach, and Torre has indicated that he does not currently have plans to continue after his contract expires following the 2010 season (although, as he has acknowledged, Torre has changed his mind in the past).

Over the weekend, the Indians -- whose timetable for hiring their manager was accelerated by the fact that Manny Acta was offered the job of manager of the Astros -- asked the Dodgers for permission to interview Mattingly a second time. The Indians were told that L.A. was going through its own discussions with Mattingly, and so Cleveland moved to hire Acta before speaking with Mattingly again.

The Dodgers' preference is to create some stability and continuity within their baseball operations. If and when Torre walks away as manager, Mattingly could be positioned to be the Dodgers' next manager.

The conversations with Mattingly are going on at a time of uncertainty in the Dodgers' ownership situation. Frank McCourt fired his estranged wife, Jamie, as chief executive officer of the team last week, but general manager Ned Colletti recently received a long-term contract extension and said Friday that it's business as usual running the baseball side of the team.

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.

Buster Olney | email

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine