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.

Shohei Ohtani no longer facing Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday at Yankee Stadium

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Shohei Ohtani has essentially become the Angels’ designated Sunday starting pitcher, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced Thursday morning that the 23-year-old two-way Japanese star will be skipped in the rotation this weekend at Yankee Stadium for “workload management” purposes.

Ohtani is fine to continue hitting, so there’s no sense of any physical ailment.

This decision will rob us — and the Japanese media — of a showdown between Ohtani and countrymate Masahiro Tanaka. And for that we are rather devastated, but you can understand the Angels’ concerns about overuse.

Ohtani has registered a 3.35 ERA, 1.066 WHIP, and 52/14 K/BB ratio through his first 40 1/3 innings (seven starts) as a major league pitcher and he’s slashing .308/.364/.582 with six home runs and 19 RBI in 26 games as a part-time DH.