The relationship between coach and player is a complicated one. In baseball, when players and coaches spend so much time together, it’s pretty easy to understand why the two entities would grow close. So, when Don Mattingly and the Dodgers agreed to part ways, it wasn’t surprising at all to see some Dodgers express their gratitude toward their old coach.
This, via FoxSports.com:
“I loved playing for Donnie,” lefty ace Clayton Kershaw said. “He has and will always have my utmost respect. I have nothing but positive things to say about him as a person and a manager. He will be missed.”
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez echoed Kershaw’s sentiments.
“Great man and leader,” he said of Mattingly, who managed the Dodgers for five seasons. “Gonna miss him. Wish him the best going forward.”
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Reliever J.P. Howell expressed commiserations that Mattingly ultimately took the fall for the Dodgers’ shortcomings.
“I enjoyed playing for him,” Howell said. “As a whole, we did not accomplish what we wanted, and he had to take the brunt of that and he did so with class.”
You’ll almost never see player kick their coach the latter is on their way out. It’s simply unprofessional and those who do tend to take the brunt of criticism because of the inherent desire to side with management in professional sports for some reason.
Kershaw, Gonzalez and Howell’s thoughts do make sense, though, and hopefully helped Mattingly on what must have been one of the tougher days in his professional life.