Prior to Wednesday’s series finale with the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly again discussed the team’s struggles, which continues to be a hot topic.
The Dodgers suffered another loss and are now one game above .500 and eight games back of the NL West leading, San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers finished their 10-game homestand a disappointing 4-6 and now hit the road for seven games.
Following Wednesday’s loss, Mattingly was as candid with his frustration as he’s been since last season’s infamous plea for “grinders.” Mattingly’s concise postgame comments were just hours after he spoke of too much emphasis being placed on individuals, via ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon:
It seems like we’re talking so much about one guy or another guy or this or that instead of us being focused on winning a game and how we can win a game and what can we do to win a game,” Mattingly said. “I think when we were able to start putting things together last year, you felt a real, true team focus, just a collective group.”
Mattingly also referenced a mindset former manager Tommy Lasorda used to motivate his teams:
It may be a day here or a day there, but it hasn’t felt like a true team at this point where we’re all on that Tommy Lasorda end of the rope and worried about the Dodgers and, ‘This is where we’re going and I don’t care what happens today, we’re going to get there.’ ”
Mattingly didn’t identify any specific player or situation that may be the source of the individualistic attitude, but the Dodgers are dealing with two issues that have played themselves out in the public spotlight — the crowded outfield and a new contract for Hanley Ramirez.
Kemp, first benched and then moved to left field, has appeared to be the most disgruntled of the outfielders, though he has publicly stated his desire to play and contribute to the team in any fashion. Similarly, Ramirez has largely attempted to downplay this being a contract year serving as a distraction.
The Dodgers were able to overcome a more desolate situation last season and still have time to make a push, even if it’s not another 42-8 run. However, this year there isn’t a Yasiel Puig to call up from the minors or a player of Ramirez’s caliber returning from injury.
They are still without regulars Carl Crawford, A.J. Ellis and Juan Uribe, but have plenty of firepower remaining the lineup and outside of Puig, are still unable to consistently hit well. Puig and Ramirez spearheaded the historic run, but it was a collective effort. The kind Lasorda advocated for and what Mattingly needs his team to once again buy into.
Dodgers Update: Matt Kemp Benched, Carl Crawford Injured