Dodgers fire Don Mattingly’s hand-picked bench coach

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Don Mattingly and the Dodgers appear headed for some sort of confrontation with one season remaining on his contract, but in the meantime Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that bench coach Trey Hillman has been fired.

Hillman joined Mattingly’s staff in 2011 after being fired as Royals manager following a 152-207 (.423) record in two-plus seasons in Kansas City.

Shaikin recently wrote an article in which he noted that “Mattingly handpicked him for the Dodgers’ coaching staff” in 2011 and “Hillman and Mattingly usually share a ride to Dodger Stadium” as “carpool mates.”

So presumably this wasn’t Mattingly’s doing, in which case the tension in Los Angeles may have just increased even further.

UPDATE: Molly Knight of ESPN.com describes Mattingly and Hillman as “best friends.” This could get ugly.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.