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Dodgers players hold Mattingly in high regard

LOS ANGELES -- Players expressed support for former Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who announced on Thursday he was parting ways with the club in a mutual decision.

"I loved playing for Donnie," said Clayton Kershaw, Opening Day starter for each of Mattingly's five seasons. "He has and will always have my utmost respect. I have nothing but positive things to say about him as a person and a manager. He will be missed."

Mattingly, Dodgers opt to part ways

Veteran first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was equally complimentary.

"Great man and leader," Gonzalez said. "Gonna miss him. Wish him the best going forward."

Video: Friedman, Zaidi on parting ways with Mattingly

Catcher A.J. Ellis, considered future managerial material, said it was an honor to play for a manager he had watched as a Yankees star.

Mattingly's leadership leaves strong legacy

"From my experience, rarely does a player you grew up idolizing come close to even meeting your expectations," he said. "To say Donnie exceeded mine is an understatement. Donnie is the most consistent, optimistic person I've ever been around on or off the field. It was an honor playing for him and to embrace each other as we did these past three years after clinching a division title are cherished memories.

"I have no doubt he will be a world champion manager someday and am grateful for the opportunity I had to play for him."

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Reliever J.P. Howell has been a key part of Mattingly's bullpen each of the three seasons the Dodgers won the National League West.

"I enjoyed playing for him," Howell said. "As a whole, we did not accomplish what we wanted, and he had to take the brunt of that and he did so with class."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for
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