ST. LOUIS -- When the Dodgers reached a season-high 12 games under .500 with a loss to the Padres on June 21, toiling at the bottom of the National League West, speculation regarding manager Don Mattingly job security had been abundant for weeks. And as it turns out, had Los Angeles not righted the ship by winning a Major League-best 32 of its next 39 games, the speculation may have soon become reality.
"[Team president Stan Kasten] was really honest, because I think he didn't want to do anything, but he says, 'Donny, at some point I've got to do something,'" Mattingly said of their late May conversation. "If they're not listening and it's not going good, you've got to make a change just to be making a change. And you could be doing the best job you could possibly do and it still wouldn't make a difference. At some point, I get it. I got that."
And Mattingly appreciated Kasten's candidness.
"I told him I understood. I didn't mind it because I thought it was just honest and he wasn't like trying to make me feel better or do anything else," Mattingly said. "He was just basically telling me the truth."
Now that the Mattingly's hot seat has cooled and the Dodgers have soared into first place in the NL West, the criticism of the Los Angeles skipper that plagued this season's early going has mostly subsided.
"It wasn't that much fun," Mattingly said. "You take it personal that you're team is not doing well and you understand the business, but I didn't really take it personal with any of the writers or anybody else because that's just a job that you had to do. I understand that's the way the game is. When the team doesn't play well, the manager usually gets it. And when a team is going good, [players] are playing great. It is true, honestly, the way it is."
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.