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Don Mattingly rolling with the changes

12/10/2014

SAN DIEGO -- Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he had been in touch with president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman at various times throughout a topsy-turvy Tuesday at the winter meetings, a day in which the Dodgers reportedly consummated two impact trades, acquiring a former MVP (Jimmy Rollins) and four prospects while dealing their everyday second baseman (Dee Gordon) and a starting pitcher ( Dan Haren).

Mattingly, who is not in San Diego due to the recent birth of his son, would not confirm or deny the reported trades, which have not been officially announced by any of the teams.

He did, however, talk about rolling with some serious changes under the new front office. The Dodgers won 94 games last year, but Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi certainly aren’t letting that stop them from reimagining the ball club.

“It’s a situation where we’ve got to continue to get better, continue to get younger,” Mattingly said. “The club was built in a way that was thrown together, which is exactly what the owners said they wanted to do, to put the club together to win now, not wait five years and let the kids develop. The club was built with that in mind. But once you get to that part, you go through the process and you’ve got to move to the next step. We know we have to be able to do it year in and year out, and that’s sustaining it with youth.”

Not that the transition figures to be entirely smooth for Mattingly and the coaching staff. Mattingly used the word “love” to describe his feelings toward both Gordon and Haren. Gordon blossomed into an All-Star following two trying years after he switched from shortstop to second base. Haren persevered through a brutal midseason slump and gave the Dodgers valuable starts at the beginning and end of the season.

Friedman certainly isn’t done with his makeover of the roster. He’ll still likely add at least one more starting pitcher and, at some point, he will move one of the excess outfielders, either Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford or Matt Kemp.

Mattingly will welcome that personnel change when it happens.

“You want to have guys who are starters starting and guys off the bench to be bench guys,” Mattingly said. “I think it’s fairly clear it was a tough situation. Andre was a total professional at the end of the year, which made our team work, I felt like. Again, I don’t really know exactly what it’s going to look like. There are a lot of things going on right now. There are going to be some possibly big changes.”