Don Mattingly: Chemistry at issue

ByMark Saxon ESPN logo
Thursday, June 5, 2014

LOS ANGELES -- The most expensive team in baseball history is barely above .500 and Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Wednesday he blames a lack of cohesion among the players.

"It may be a day here or a day there, but it hasn't felt like a true team at this point where we're all on that Tommy Lasorda end of the rope and worried about the Dodgers and, 'This is where we're going and I don't care what happens today, we're going to get there,' " said Mattingly, whose Dodgers entered the season with a $239 million payroll.

"We talk about this all the time within the staff and with different guys. It's really not that hard to see that it's not happening."

The Dodgers, who at 31-30 trail the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants by eight games after a 2-1 loss Wednesday night to the Chicago White Sox, have been confounding for Mattingly and the team's front office at points this season.

They have not won or lost more than three games in a row all season.

Their deep starting rotation is third in the National League in ERA and their lineup, led by Yasiel Puig, is third in runs scored, but the parts have not added up to what Mattingly called "traction."

Mattingly implied that individual agendas have gotten too much attention. One source of constant discussion around the team is the rotation of four outfielders, three of whom have been All-Stars.

Recently, former MVP runner-up Matt Kemp, a career center fielder, was put in left after a five-game stint on the bench when Carl Crawford sprained his ankle.

And Kemp has made it clear he's unhappy with the move.

"It seems like we're talking so much about one guy or another guy or this or that instead of us being focused on winning a game and how we can win a game and what can we do to win a game," Mattingly said. "I think when we were able to start putting things together last year, you felt a real, true team focus, just a collective group.

"It's the thing we talk about when guys start throwing all the numbers out, all these things ... One thing you can't measure is that feeling you have as a team when everybody's playing together and everybody's going in one direction."

Mattingly voiced similar concerns at times last season when the Dodgers got off to a slow start. A brawl with the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 11 seemed to build some cohesiveness. Starting June 22, the Dodgers went on a historic 42-8 run that launched them from last place into the playoffs.

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