Categorized | Mark Timmons

It’s Donnie’s Ballgame

It’s Donnie’s Ballgame

If there was any idea that Don Mattingly was going to be a manager in the mold of Joe Torre, Donnie has managed to put that nation to rest right at the beginning of his Dodger tenure.  He has named Clayton Kershaw opening day starter, said that Thames and Gibbons are probably the LF platoon and that Barajas and Navarro are likely the Catchers.  Agree or not, he is showing decisiveness in his actions, something I think was lacking in 2010.

He did it again yesterday, when according to Ken Gurnick of , he stepped into the batter’s box with a fungo bat and watched Dodger pitchers throw from the best possible vantage point:

“That’s where I can tell how the ball comes out, and I can tell that that pitch can get a guy out or somebody can hit it,” said Mattingly. “You get in and can actually see if it’s moving late. You watch and say to yourself, ‘Why is a guy swinging at that?’ You get in there and can see why.”

I think the players are impressed by this.  In fact, Gurnick also wrote this:

Jon Garland said the most surprising part of Mattingly’s decision was to do it in the dimly lit cage.

“I had trouble seeing the ball come back from the catcher,” he said. “It would be hard to pick up the ball and get out of the way if you had to. But it shows he wants to be in there with us. You want to play for somebody like that.”

That speaks volumes.  Wanting to play is a start -just a start, but that’s more than last season.  This is a very good start for Donnie Ballgame in gaining the player’s respect… and confidence.

Mattingly is also utilizing Davey Lopes in special instruction sessions for players who are the speedy base-stealing type.  I understand it is an ongoing thing.  Tony Jackson of ESPN/LosAngeles has more about the base-running program under Lopes’ instruction.  In part, Tony reports this:

The fact much of that time was dedicated to one-on-one work with center fielder Matt Kemp was by design.

“I see a lot of things that he is doing,” Lopes said. “Some of the stuff he does, or has been doing, takes away from his quickness a little bit. So we’re trying to eliminate some body movement and iron out some things and just make him a little smoother.”

Lopes has been giving these tutorials every morning this spring, and after a few minutes on Saturday, Kemp was joined by outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr., shortstop Rafael Furcal, highly touted prospects Dee Gordon and Trayvon Robinson and non-roster outfielder Trent Oeltjen. Not one of those players is required to be in camp until Monday, but several of the team’s position players chose to report early.

Lopes’ group spent the entire session taking leads off first, crouching and breaking toward second base, though they weren’t running at anything close to full speed and they stopped about halfway there.

“Right now, I’m just trying to get an idea of what they do and what they attempt to do and see if there is something we can try to adjust to make it a little better fit for them,” Lopes said. “Basically, we’re just breaking down their movements.”

Normally, I don’t put much stock into TJ Simers of The LA Times. He’s really is a nice guy who happens to make his living disrespecting the ones he writes about because Fans love that.  So he is just providing a service.  I have no fault with that.  He did say something that I thought was very interesting (if it is really true).  Here’s what he wrote:

By the way, in high school Broxton played football, as you might expect. But he was a punter, quitting the team when they tried to push him into being a lineman. So the Dodgers have a punter as their closer, and it makes sense.

If that is true, and I’m not saying it is, it could be very telling as to what type of makeup J-Brox has.  Was he afraid to be hit?  Or was he afraid he might kill someone if he hit them?  I’m not saying he’s a bad guy.   Football is not for everyone.  Neither is closing…  I hope he makes me eat a ton of crow!  I’ll be rooting for just that.

About Mark Timmons

When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible!

15 Responses to “It’s Donnie’s Ballgame”

  1. artie says:

    and i am confident Justin Sellers with be the back up in the Middle Infield. not that 39 yr old back up. might as well start going young Colletti

  2. Ken says:

    Great article.

    And do not be surprised if Kemp never played high school football either.

    The O’s brought in a new manager in the middle of the 2010 season and great results occurred. I realize that hiring Donnie last August would have been more than awkward but that is what I would have done. At the minimum he should have replaced Bob in July.

  3. Bill Russell says:

    Maybe Maury Wills just wasn’t a good teacher. Hopefully Lopes can get his point across to the base runners. The local paper is talking about Billingsley changing his mental approach. Spring is near and it’s a different year.

  4. Bobby says:

    i think there’s gona be a game on tv a week from today!!

  5. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    Broxton not wanting to be lineman doesn’t tell me anything. Completely irrelevant, but sounds good, and makes for good copy. Simers probably is a nice guy, and is definitely a talented writer, and no doubt his style is designed to create readership. Probably could same the same thing about Plaschke (did I spell his name correctly?).

    I also like what Mattingly is doing and saying now, and his earlier comments concerning mental toughness. But words and early actions are one thing, results are another. Prior to the announcement that Mattingly would be the manager, he wasn’t at the top of my list. However, I said then that my mind was open, and it still is. If anything, since being named manager, Mattingly has given me the impression that he is his own man, and is certainly not a Torre clone. I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen and heard, but like anything, the devil is in the details. Only time will tell.

    Having Davey Lopes around I think can only help. In fact, overall I think this year’s coaching staff is an improvement over what we’ve seen in the past. But as I noted above, only time will tell.

  6. DodgerDude says:

    I had always heard that Broxton didn’t want to do anything other than punt because he was bigger than other kids and didnt want to hurt them.

  7. Mark_Timmons says:

    If and I am saying IF Broxton really did quite football when asked to be a lineman, that could tell ME something about him:

    1. That maybe he doesn\’t like aggression; or

    2. Maybe like the Dude said, he was (is) afraid of hurting someone.

    That could somewhat explain his reluctance to pitch inside.

    It could give us a glimpse into his character.

  8. Michael says:

    Three items Broxton should add to his repertoire

    1. Goose Gossage “Fu Manchu”

    2. Goggles [to hide the deer in the headlights look]

    3. A couple warm up pitches to the backstop ala Ryne Duren to instill a little fear

    He would be lights out if the hitters weren’t dug in and sitting on dead red. Perhaps bonuses for every batter that has to bail out are in order.

  9. Willie Mays says:

    Your boy is a soft big old blob of goo.

    The beard is the best closer in baseball.

    • Glass Is Half Full says:

      Willie….Until he can write and record an album like “Pet Sounds” there will be only one “real” Brian Wilson!

  10. Corey says:

    Every couple months I try reading a Simers article (and it reaffirms why I don’t read them again for months). I can’t stand reading his garbage. They’re filled with his opinions mixed with a couple facts and what he thinks his witty.

  11. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    Broxton reluctant to pitch inside? I think that could be said for pitchers in general in today’s game. Do the catchers call for pitches inside? I’m guessing not. If the Dodgers wanted Broxton to pitch inside more, I’m certain Honeycutt, etc. would insist on it, and Broxton would oblige.

    I definitely would like to see more pitching inside, from Broxton and everyone else on the staff. In fact, although in general pitchers try to keep their pitches down, I’d like to see more high heat, inside and outside. Good idea to keep hitters guessing, inside, outside, up, down. Don’t let them get comfortable, and change their eye level and perspective. Change speeds too.

    In Broxton’s case, last years lack of success appeared to be due to a lack of bite on his slider, and a reduction in his velocity. Was he hurt? He says not, I say maybe. Even when he was having success early in the year, I don’t recall him every having the wipeout slider of years past. In fact, if memory serves, I believe the slider started flattening out in the second half of 2009. If it’s not a matter of health, then Broxton, IMO, needs to get back to the basics. If he can do that successfully, then he probably needs to begin thinking about a third pitch, be it a change, splitter, or whatever.

    As for the psychology part, let’s leave that to the professionals. People can read all they want into a person’s demeanor on the mound or the look in their eyes. But unless you have a more intimate familiarity with that person, or you can peer into their soul, you really know nothing.

  12. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    “Don’t let them get comfortable, and change their eye level and perspective.”

    The above is quoted from my post above. The “Don’t” should only refer to “comfortable”, like in “don’t let them get comfortable.” The part about changing their eye level and perspective is not something you want hitters not to do. Therefore, it should have been written:

    Don’t let them get comfortable, and force them to change their eye level and perspective.

  13. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    Gurnick quotes this from Mattingly in the link above:

    “I want them to know me and the way I think,” he said. “They may think they know me. They probably think I’m laid-back. But as a coach, it’s different. It was Joe’s club. You respect the job. You may think differently, but it’s not your job to express it. You don’t feel you’re allowed to express your opinion in all areas.”

    To me this is further evidence that Mattingly is his own man. In effect, although he doesn’t come out and say it directly, he’s letting us know that he wasn’t always in agreement with Torre, but made it a practice to keep it to himself. In this respect, it appears as if he was specifically speaking about the pitching, which wasn’t his area, and something in which he didn’t feel that his opinion would be appreciated by Torre (“you don’t feel you’re allowed to express your opinion in all areas.”).

    And maybe he really isn’t as “laid-back” as he’s perceived. We’ll see.


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