Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly will be the team’s manager for the 2011 season, replacing Joe Torre.
Torre, 70, the fifth-winningest manager in Major League Baseball history with a 2,318-1,990 record in 29 seasons, has yet to determine his plans for next year, the Dodgers said in a news release.
“This decision was a long time coming. It wasn’t easy,” Torre said during a news conference. “Baseball has been my life, and hopefully will continue to be my life in some other capacity.”
Mattingly, 49, is completing his seventh season as a major league coach and has never been a manager. He will become the Dodgers’ ninth manager since their move from Brooklyn, New York, to Los Angeles in 1958.
“I’m convinced that (Don) is the right person to lead the Dodgers,” General Manager Ned Colletti said in a statement. “Donnie has also learned alongside the best in the business. Joe Torre has been a great friend, a strong leader and an incredible presence for this organization.”
The changes occur as the ownership of the Dodgers is in question.
Yesterday’s announcement came midway through the divorce case of Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, whose wife claims she owns half the team. A judge in Los Angeles who is hearing the case, which resumes next week, might rule on team ownership as part of his decision.
Peter O’Malley, whose family owned the Dodgers for 47 years until 1998, told the Los Angeles Times that “it would be best for the franchise and the city if there was new ownership.”
Mattingly, a six-time All-Star first baseman, had a .307 batting average with 222 home runs and 1,099 runs batted in during 14 seasons with the New York Yankees. He was the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1985.
He left the Yankees with Torre to join the Dodgers as hitting coach in November 2007. He stepped aside in January 2008 due to personal reasons before returning to the team the following July. Mattingly will manage in the Arizona Fall League after this season ends, the team said.
“The opportunity to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers is truly an honor,” Mattingly said in a statement released by the team. “I’m looking forward to continuing what I came here to accomplish with Joe, and that’s to win a world championship.”
Mets, Braves, Cardinals
Torre, a former catcher and infielder who was a nine-time All-Star and the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1971, began his managerial career in 1977-81 with the New York Mets. He then spent three seasons as manager of the Atlanta Braves and six with the St. Louis Cardinals.
He joined the Yankees in 1996, a year after Mattingly’s retirement, and led the team to World Series titles in four of his first five seasons. Torre won six American League pennants in his 12 seasons with the Yankees.
Torre signed a three-year contract with the Dodgers two weeks after rejecting a contract to stay with the Yankees in October 2007. After leading the team to the playoffs in his first two seasons in Los Angeles, Torre’s Dodgers are 72-76 this year, 11 games back in the NL West.
“This year has been a struggle, no question, but the fun of managing was still there,” Torre said. “I was telling someone today, I manage a lot by instinct, and you have to make decisions by instinct and that’s what I did today.”