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Manager Don Mattingly has no illusions about leading by example. He just leads from the dugout. So don’t expect him to step to the plate in spring training and try to show his Miami Marlins pitchers how he once hit the ball.
“And try and hit them?” Mattingly said, via The Associated Press. “No. No, no, no. No trying to hit.”
Mattingly, 59, has been Marlins manager since 2016. Long before that, he was a six-time All-Star. His No. 23 has been retired by the New York Yankees.
Now, his baseball life is full of challenges, including once trying to lead an island of misfit toys to MLB relevancy. But Mattingly is the man for the job, say those who know him well.
“The entire industry knows what Donnie brings to the table — extreme baseball intelligence and sheer class,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “The Marlins went through a rebuilding process, and that’s tough to deal with. What he was able to accomplish last year was pretty special. I think there were a lot of people who were really happy for him, having to walk through some fire to get where they got.”
Interestingly, Mattingly never reached the World Series during his legendary run as a player with the Yankees. In fact, he’s never made it — period. But last year’s Marlins finished 31-29 for second place in the NL East. Who knows? After turning the corner, maybe they will round the bend this year.
He believes his own experiences as a player helps in terms to relating to the players of today.
“As far as communicating with players, I’ve always felt pretty comfortable with that part of it,” Mattingly said. “I experienced a lot in my playing days, coming up not as a high draft pick. I had to work my way through.
“I got to the big leagues pretty young, and had that relationship with older players. Then I evolved into a pretty good player, and there were the things that come with that, like the contracts. So you feel like you experienced a lot.”
Just don’t ask him to step back up the plate.