Mattingly says it was a 'blessing' that Yankees didn't hire him as manager
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As much as Don Mattingly yearned to manage the team he represented with such class for 14 seasons, he can look back now and say it was a "blessing" that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman chose Joe Girardi as Joe Torre's successor in 2008.
Was Mattingly disappointed at the time? "A little bit," the Dodgers' manager said before yesterday's rainout. "You're competing for the job, so, there's a little disappointment. But I was treated really well through that process. Cash was upfront and honest with everything.
"To be very honest, it was a blessing for me. Stuff that went on with me personally right after that [a divorce] would have made it really, really hard to do the job here. That would have really been bad. So, I look at it as a blessing."
That decision gave Mattingly the chance to head west with Torre, learn the National League game and finally succeed him as Dodgers manager in 2011. He arrived at new Yankee Stadium in that role for the first time Tuesday. Today's split doubleheader comes as a bright spot for Mattingly in what has been a bleak season.
His $200-million roster has been gutted by injuries much as Girardi's team has been, but unlike the Yankees, the Dodgers have struggled to a 29-39 record. It has been accompanied by growing speculation regarding Mattingly's job security.
"It's not fun," Mattingly said. "When you start the season, you don't want to go through this. There's been a day here or there where it hit fever pitch. But it's something you deal with. It's a learning experience. So you have to keep that in perspective with what happens."
Of course, Mattingly witnessed his share of controversy during his years with the Yankees. He had to smile when he was asked how working for the late George Steinbrenner, "The Boss," had helped him endure the current tempest in Los Angeles.
"It's similar to George," Mattingly said. "I had a good training ground, put it that way. I think George liked controversy. What was his thing? Good publicity or bad publicity, it's still publicity. So, I kind of grew up with it.
"It still doesn't really prepare you for when it's on you. It does a little bit. For me, you just weather it, don't take it personal and it kind of goes away. It can only stay at that level for so long, and either you get fired or you don't and it kind of calms down. Just deal with it."
No manager lasts forever, even one as successful as Girardi. So Mattingly inevitably was asked if he harbors a desire to manage in pinstripes one day.
"I could see myself managing anywhere," he said. "I'm where I want to be. I want to do the best job I can for our organization. If they don't think I'm the guy for them or the right guy, then, I want to keep managing. I'll say that . . . The only thing that pushes me away from there is if they don't want me. Then, you see what door opens next."