Don Mattingly knows the Dodgers’ high expectations have his job on the line this season

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Don Mattingly is entering the final season of his contract and the Dodgers manager told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times that he doesn’t expect to get an extension before Opening Day.

Not only that, but Mattingly explained that if the Dodgers and their record $230 million payroll don’t live up to the high expectations this season he would understand if ownership wanted him gone:

If we don’t win and we’re healthy, they really should look at it. This team has a lot of talent. My job, and my coaches’ job, is to get them to play the game right. If we can’t get them to play the game right, they may have the wrong voice. There’s a ton of talent here.

You don’t hear many managers say that type of thing and it’ll be awfully easy to trot out those quotes if the Dodgers get off to a slow start. In his first two seasons Mattingly went 82-79 and 86-76, failing to make the playoffs in both years.

It’s also worth noting that the Dodgers have a 2014 option on Mattingly that they haven’t exercised yet despite the manager asking them to do so. So if the team gets off to a good start or makes a deep playoff run they aren’t at risk of losing him either.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.