SAN DIEGO -- Don Mattingly expects former Giants closer Brian Wilson to receive a mixed reaction when he returns to AT&T Park on Tuesday night, but there is nothing mixed about Mattingly's reaction to Wilson's contributions out of the Dodgers' bullpen.
"One thing we found out -- when he's in the game, he pitches," Mattingly said approvingly. "He knows what he's doing. He's not in the middle of the plate too often. He makes the ball move both ways. And when he wants to, he's got extra and he can elevate. That whole persona of just chucking balls? He knows what he's doing."
Coming off a second Tommy John elbow reconstruction, Wilson was non-tendered by the Giants last winter. He continued his recovery this season until he was sure he was ready, then signed with the Dodgers on July 30 and debuted Aug. 22.
Since then, he's looked like the eccentric guy who closed out the Giants' 2010 World Series. He's allowed one run in 11 1/3 innings, stranded 10 of 11 inherited baserunners and given Mattingly another setup option for closer Kenley Jansen.
"When we signed him, I didn't know what to expect," Mattingly said. "The first sim game in Philly, he was throwing 86 [mph] or something and I wasn't sure. But the emotion of a game makes a big difference for him."
Mattingly said he expects Wilson to receive a reception in San Francisco similar to that of Adrian Gonzalez in San Diego.
"I'm sure with any personality that goes to a rival, it's not going to be a warm and fuzzy reaction," he said. "I don't understand that, though. They could have signed him. They let him go. It's not like he decided to leave. It'll probably be half and half. A lot of people appreciated what he was able to accomplish and there will be a mix of traitor talk."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.