NEW YORK — Joe Girardi predicted the cheers for Dodgers manager Don Mattingly could outdo the cheers for Mariano Rivera on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.
The former Yankee player and coach never did get to hear his name announced. A consistent rain shower led to the postponement of the Yankees’ game against the Dodgers. Mattingly will have to wait until today’s day-night doubleheader, which will mark the Yankees’ first-ever regular-season home game against the Dodgers and Mattingly’s official return to the Bronx.
Some warm applause Tuesday night may have been a welcome change for Mattingly, though. He has been on the managerial hot seat due to the Dodgers’ 29-39 start to the season. The team’s frustration boiled over June 11 during an intense brawl with the Diamondbacks in Los Angeles.
Mattingly, who was fired up during that brawl, was much mellower before Tuesday’s rained-out contest as he settled into the new home of his old club.
“It’s always good coming into the city when you fly in,” Mattingly said. “If it’s going to Citi Field, obviously not the same as coming here. Came from a small town, loved playing, I came here and just played. It’s a simple as that.”
Mattingly left for Los Angeles after the Yankees selected Girardi to succeed Joe Torre as manager following the 2007 season. The Yankees had Mattingly on their short list for the job.
Girardi, the Yankees’ bench coach in 2005, worked with Mattingly for that one season. The Yankee skipper said their mutual pursuit of New York’s managing gig didn’t create any tension between them.
“Obviously I was a big fan of his,” Girardi said. “He’s been such a big part of Yankee history, in the way he played the game.”
Mattingly hit a .307 with 222 home runs over his 14-year career with New York. Nicknamed “Donnie Baseball,” Mattingly saw his No. 23 retired by the Yankees.
A pennant — and for nearly all of his playing career, the playoffs — eluded Mattingly. He didn’t play a postseason game until his final year as a player in 1995. After he retired, New York won four championships from 1996-2000. Mattingly was part of the Yankees’ 7-13 postseason record when he coached from 2004-07. The Yankees won another World Series two years later, when Mattingly was in Los Angeles.
But Mattingly said he has no regrets about moving his baseball career out west, and that he wants to keep managing whether the Dodgers ultimately will have him or not.
“I look at it as a blessing because it took me to L.A.,” he said of Girardi’s selection as manager. “Organizationally, (the Yankees and Dodgers) are after the same thing. They’re after championships. They talk about the history of their club, and they’re proud of their history and the players that have come through the organization.”
One of those players, Mark Teixeira won’t have the opportunity to take on Mattingly’s Dodgers on Wednesday after the Yankees placed him on the 15-day disabled list with an aching right wrist. The Yankees’ first baseman remembers the chats he used to have with Mattingly when his old team, the Rangers, played New York.
Then, Teixeira tried to beat him. Now, nothing has changed.
“I hope he loses two games in a row,” Teixeira said. “But I wish the best as long as he’s not playing the Yankees.
“I wish I was playing, but it will be good to see him in the other dugout.”