Mattingly convenes the team for a chat

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
11:44
PM PT
Clayton KershawStephen Dunn/Getty ImagesDodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw says he was "frustrated" after another loss to the D-backs.

LOS ANGELES -- Manager Don Mattingly wouldn't tell the media what he told his team in a closed-door meeting following a lifeless 2-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night, but you get the sense he's getting a little tired of one particular excuse.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have remade their roster, turning over more than 30 percent of it in a month. Maybe that takes some getting used to, but their opponents aren't going to politely stand aside while they get to know one another better.

"We're professionals. We've got [junk] going on in our lives and things going on around us all the time. That's why we've got to be good enough to be able to focus during game time and get past all that," Mattingly said. "That's why we're not in Little League or anything else. We're at the professional level, where you're expected to put things behind you and come out ready to play."

The Dodgers just keep hanging around at the periphery of this playoff picture, making feints here and parries there, but never fully engaging. Even as their owners and front office have spent more than a quarter of a billion dollars to bring in new talent, they've stayed stuck on blah.

They have lost four of their Past five and nine of their Past 14. They're losing games to teams that look ripe for the taking. The Colorado Rockies are more than 20 games under .500 AND in last place. Arizona had lost six in a row coming in. Eventually, this could leave a mark. They're only a game-and-a-half out in the wild-card standings, but eventually this inaction could cost them.

In mid-September, they've got 10 straight games against contenders from St. Louis, Washington and Cincinnati. This is "go" time and they can't get moving. Mattingly said part of his message to the team was not to forget where they are. It's still there, right in front of them, but it's not getting any closer.

"Frustrated" was how Clayton Kershaw put it. "We get a lot of new guys. ... On paper, great lineup. Talent-wise, I don't think there's any denying we've got a ton of talent in here."

Of course, you could have injected that comment into the context of the Boston Red Sox's first few months and it would have been equally appropriate. Just because the Dodgers traded for a big chunk of Boston's roster (and even more of its payroll) doesn't mean they have to join them in their Massive Disappointments Club.

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Clayton Kershaw
WINS ERA SO IP
21 1.77 239 198
OTHER LEADERS
BAY. Puig .296
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239