Don Mattingly questions Cardinals
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Most aspects of the Los Angeles Dodgers' loss in the NL Championship Series -- the inability to hit the St. Louis Cardinals' good, young pitching, Clayton Kershaw's strange Game 6 meltdown -- have been thoroughly covered.
One aspect that hasn't been explored much: potential espionage.
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The Dodgers went into that series highly cognizant of the Cardinals' reputation for stealing a team's signs, manager Don Mattingly told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Wednesday at the winter meetings. Mattingly was quick to say he doesn't think the Cardinals won the series because of their ability to decipher signs. The Dodgers complained to the umpires at times about where Cardinals third-base coach Jose Oquendo stood while coaching third base.
"We felt like we had to be sure we kept an eye on their first-base coach and their third-base coach," Mattingly said. "They're the ones with the easiest way to steal signs. Josie's a guy, at third, who's always looking for my signs from our dugout."
Mattingly said he did not relay signs during the series, having someone else in the dugout do it for him, to keep Oquendo from picking them up. The Dodgers did not change their signs heading into the postseason, Mattingly said, because they felt it was likely to cause confusion among their own players, who were conditioned to the same signs all year.
Some Dodgers also felt the Cardinals were relaying catcher A.J. Ellis' signs once a runner got to second base, helping the hitter determine the location of the next pitch. During the series, the Cardinals batted .190 with nobody on and .259 with runners in scoring position. During the regular season, the Cardinals hit .236 with nobody on and .330 with runners in scoring position.
Mattingly said it was the Dodgers' responsibility to stop it if they felt the Cardinals were relaying signs from second.
"If you think a guy's looking from second base, then you have to have a combination of signs," Mattingly said. "If you think guys are cheating from first base, then you have to have multiple signs even with a guy on first. It's your job to make sure they can't do it."
In Game 6, Kershaw retired seven of the first nine batters before giving up a Matt Carpenter double. After that, six of the next eight Cardinals hitters got on base and St. Louis wound up romping in the game 9-0.