Mattingly finds several positives in tough opener
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- His pitchers allowed nine earned runs. His hitters managed only three hits. So Don Mattingly was asked if he still liked his $220 million team?
"I haven't given up yet. I give up easy, but not that fast," Mattingly joked after the Dodgers were blanked by the White Sox, 9-0, in Saturday's exhibition opener.
Despite the blowout result, Mattingly found some good news. It began with the defensive play of shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who ranged far to his left to steal a hit by Dayan Viciedo, spin 360 degrees and throw him out at first.
Mattingly, however, was equally impressed with Ramirez's assertiveness in putting on a pickoff play at second base in the first inning. Ultimately, the play wasn't executed properly, as Ramirez lost sight of Clayton Kershaw's throw that sailed into center field for an error charged to Kershaw.
"I want [Hanley] to keep trying all that stuff," said Mattingly. "When he came over during the season, it was hard to work on that with him. It's all about timing."
Ramirez went 0-for-3 at the plate with a lineout and will bat leadoff again Sunday, as the Dodgers want to give him as much playing time as possible before he leaves to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
Mattingly also was impressed with the play of $42 million Cuban Yasiel Puig, who hustled to beat out a double-play grounder, then doubled into the left-center gap. Puig, with a frame like Bo Jackson, was running aggressively considering the Dodgers were down big by the time he got in the game, but Mattingly said that can be worked on.
"That's what you get when you play full-speed," he said. "I'd much rather that than to have to kick him in the [rear end]."
The first Dodgers hit was by Juan Uribe, heading into his third season and now trying to find a role.
"He squared the ball up both times," said Mattingly. "He's been working with Manny [Mota] on going to right field. He was good today."
Uribe, the designated hitter on Saturday, will be used at first base in his next appearance, Mattingly said.