Mattingly Says He's Ready to Manage NYY
By JAY COHEN
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- Don Mattingly has been making managerial moves with the New York Yankees for several seasons - in his head. "I've heard that experience thing come up a lot," he said, "but in my own mind I've been managing for the last four years, and to be honest with you, as a player you're playing along the whole time."
After four seasons as a coach, Mattingly was interviewed Tuesday to replace departed manager Joe Torre. Yankees broadcaster Joe Girardi interviewed a day earlier, and first base coach Tony Pena is due to speak with team officials Wednesday.
Mattingly was true to his humble Indiana roots, saying he spoke from the heart and just tried to be himself.
"It's an unbelievable opportunity for whoever gets it, and if it's me I'm looking forward to that challenge," said Mattingly, who met with owner George Steinbrenner and his sons Hank and Hal, and other team executives at the Yankees spring training facility in Tampa, Fla.
Mattingly is considered the leading candidate for the job. Hank Steinbrenner said Monday four or five people will be interviewed, but it's possible the candidates will be limited to the trio. Teams aren't allowed to announce moves during the World Series, but the Yankees could ask commissioner Bud Selig for permission if they'd like to name a successor on off-days Friday or next Tuesday.
The 46-year-old Mattingly spent this season as bench coach following three years as hitting coach under Torre. He didn't back away from his relationship with the former manager but also highlighted some of his other influences.
"There's a lot of Joe Torre in me but there's also a lot of Billy Martin and Lou Piniella and whatever creates the personality inside of me that says we need to get this job done," said Mattingly, who acknowledged that he had his eyes on becoming manager since he joined the team as a coach.
Even while the Yankees tried to move on from the messy departure of Torre, Mattingly faced questions about his similarities to the former manager. Also Tuesday, shortstop Derek Jeter made his first public comments since Torre left last week after 12 seasons.
"In my eyes, Joe Torre is more than a Hall of Fame manager," Jeter said in a statement released by the team. "He is a friend for life, and the relationship we have shared has helped shape me in ways that transcend the game of baseball. "His class, dignity, and the way he respected those around him - from ballplayers to batboys - are all qualities that are easy to admire, but difficult to duplicate."
Torre also elaborated further about his final meeting with the Steinbrenners in Tampa, saying on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" that he told the owner he was being held to an impossible standard.
"Every year, it was disappointment, disappointment, disappointment," Torre said in an interview taped for broadcast Tuesday night. "I just didn't think that was the right thing. And I just let them know how I felt. But when I was speaking, it was, there was nothing coming back."
Torre also said his popularity probably caused some resentment in the team's front office, and hinted his preference would be to wear a Yankees hat if he is inducted into Cooperstown. The Hall of Fame would make that decision if Torre makes it.
A hardworking everyman from Evansville, Ind., Mattingly is among the most beloved players in Yankees history, and always receives one of the loudest ovations on Old-Timers' Day.
Drafted in the 19th round in 1979, he batted .307 with 2,153 hits and 1,099 RBIs during a 14-year career diminished by back injuries. He won nine Gold Gloves at first base and the 1985 AL MVP, serving as team captain before his No. 23 was retired by the Yankees in '97.
That sterling reputation could take some hits if he becomes manager but Mattingly said he isn't concerned.
"If I get the opportunity to manage this club, it's about going forward," the six-time All-Star said. "It's about winning games and doing whatever we can to win. If we don't do that and I don't do my job and I get criticism, that's part of it."
I imagine the Yankees will be in a rush to hire a new manager after the way they handled the Torre situation.