Owner 'understands' critical words

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers president Stan Kasten said he was "absolutely" understanding of manager Don Mattingly's critical comments about the team before Wednesday's game in Milwaukee and that he had no problem with them.

"I didn't know the specifics of what he was going to say -- I was out of town on the East Coast in meetings -- and I don't know what he's going to say every day, but I'm very aware of Don's thoughts on the team," Kasten told ESPN LosAngeles. "It was not an issue for me at all. [General manager] Ned [Colletti] hasn't expressed any issue to me."

Kasten did not want to discuss Mattingly's job status, but has said he would wait until the manager's 2014 option must be picked up this fall to make that decision. Mattingly asked the Dodgers to pick up the option before spring training, but the team declined.

"I have nothing new to say," Kasten said. "Seriously."

Mattingly benched former All-Star right fielder Andre Ethier for Wednesday's game in Milwaukee, a 9-2 Dodgers win, saying, "I'm trying to put the club out there that I feel is going to fight."

"It's not just all, 'Let's go put an All-Star team out there and play games and the team with the All-Star team wins.' It's trying to find that balance of a team that's got a little grit and a little fight."

Ethier, batting .264 with a .405 slugging percentage and four home runs, later told reporters, "I take offense to that."

The Dodgers open a three-game series with the first-place St. Louis Cardinals on Friday with rumors that Mattingly's job status is hanging in the balance. The Dodgers have made just one in-season managerial change because of poor play in their 111-year history -- in 1998, when News Corp. fired Bill Russell and installed Glenn Hoffman as the interim manager.

Kasten, who worked with Bobby Cox for many years with the Atlanta Braves, also has emphasized stability. The Dodgers, who entered this season with a National League-record $217 million payroll, are 19-26 and in last place in the NL West.

Mattingly declined to discuss the matter when reached Thursday.