New LA coaches excited by opportunity

Mattingly, Bowa excited to coach in LA

LOS ANGELES -- The composition of Joe Torre's Dodgers coaching staff remains unclear, except for Don Mattingly and Larry Bowa.

As soon as Torre's name surfaced as a candidate, the speculation included Mattingly and Bowa following him from New York to remain as his top lieutenants. When Torre first contacted his former Yankees coaches about "a chance to do something" -- without saying which club it was -- Mattingly and Bowa said they were in.

In a Thursday conference call, Mattingly said his acceptance to be Dodgers hitting coach was automatic.

"Anything with Joe is a good situation," he said.

Bowa, who already had an offer to coach with Seattle, rejected it to be Torre's third-base coach. Although they come from a club on a 12-year postseason roll to one that collapsed in September and finished in fourth place, both are convinced the Dodgers are talented enough to win and Torre will help make it happen.

"It's real close, and obviously it will take work and commitment, but that's Joe's forte," said Bowa. "He gets everybody on one goal. It's not about personal performance. Joe has a way to get guys on the same page. In New York this year, a lot of people thought we had no chance. You saw what happened.

"I know what Joe is all about. He's like E.F. Hutton -- when he speaks, everybody listens. He's got a presence about him. He'll get everybody on the same page or it's time to move on. New York is a big place, but handling 25 guys, he can do it better than anybody I've ever seen."

At his introductory press conference Monday, Torre acknowledged that he wasn't very familiar with the Dodgers roster. Mattingly and Bowa have been doing their homework. Mattingly said he's already begun receiving briefings and video of Dodgers hitters, while Bowa rattled off the names of several of the younger Dodgers.

"It's not going to take us long," Bowa predicted. "Believe me, we'll get inside their heads. It's important they learn how to win, to do the little things. Guys get caught up in stats. The sooner we get rid of the individual things, the sooner we'll get them to thinking of how to win as a team."

Mattingly said that as hitting coach, his first mission is to build relationships with those hitters. Mattingly takes over for Bill Mueller, who moves back into a front-office role after replacing Eddie Murray at mid-season.

Bowa, 62 next month, played 16 seasons in the Major Leagues, won a World Series with Philadelphia in 1980, was an All-Star five times and Gold Glove shortstop twice. He managed in San Diego two years and with the Phillies four years, most recently finishing second in 2004, and was Manager of the Year in 2001.

Bowa spent the past two years as Torre's third-base coach after one year as an ESPN analyst. He's served 14 years as a third-base coach, including three seasons with the Angels.

Mattingly, 46, was Torre's bench coach in 2007 after three years as hitting coach. As a player, he was one of the premier first basemen of his generation, ending a 14-year career in 1995. He won nine Gold Gloves, was a six-time All-Star, had a career batting average of .307 and was the American League MVP in 1985 with 35 home runs and 145 RBIs.

Mattingly's son, Preston, was drafted by the Dodgers as a supplemental first-round pick in 2006 and played at Class A in 2007, hitting .210.

Mattingly said he was a little uncomfortable about coming to the same organization as his son for fear of charges of nepotism, but that Preston assured him there would be no problems.

"If you don't perform, you don't move," said Mattingly. "It's all about performance."

Bowa said he is satisfied being a third-base coach, although if a managing opportunity arose, he'd listen.

"Right now I'm very happy doing what I'm doing," he said. "I like working under Joe, especially if the team has a chance to win. I definitely think the Dodgers have a chance to win."

Mattingly has been open about wanting to manage "someday," and he was thought to be in line to succeed Torre with the Yankees, but the job went to Joe Girardi. While general manager Ned Colletti said it would be ideal to groom a replacement for the 67-year-old Torre, Mattingly said no guarantee was made.

"I don't want to get involved with that. I just went through that with Joe in New York," he said. "I'm really committed to the players, that's why I'm coming out here. To build something and help get them over the top. People feel we can win and win right away."

A Yankee throughout his professional career, Mattingly said he was excited about the challenge of a new organization, a new league and a new coast.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.