Mattingly 'here to support' as Blue Jays' bench coach

Decorated big league player, manager brings a lot to the table in Toronto

November 30th, 2022

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have rounded out their coaching staff by hiring longtime player and manager Don Mattingly, giving manager John Schneider one of the most decorated and experienced bench coaches in Major League Baseball.

Mattingly spent his 14-year big league career with the Yankees, winning the 1985 AL MVP Award and nine Gold Gloves while being named to six All-Star teams. As a manager, Mattingly led the Dodgers to five winning seasons, then took over the Marlins, where he managed from 2016-22 and with whom he won the NL Manager of the Year Award in ’20.

Now, the 61-year-old is embracing a new challenge, and an unexpected one. After his tenure with Miami ended in October, Mattingly was essentially expecting to be at home in 2023, spending time with his youngest son, who is 8. He had other offers, none of which interested him, but then the Blue Jays called. After discussions with general manager Ross Atkins, Mattingly prioritized one thing: his relationship with Schneider, Toronto’s 42-year-old skipper.

“John’s role was the most important to me,” Mattingly said. “After I talked to Ross, I loved that conversation we had. Early on with Ross, I was like, ‘John’s got to be 100% comfortable with me.’ My role, I look at it as I’m here to support John in anything he wants me to do. He’ll define that role as it goes. That was the most important thing for me, getting comfortable with John and, more than anything, John getting comfortable with me.”

The Blue Jays have a big, sprawling Major League staff, but this bench coach role was vacant after the beloved Casey Candaele was named Triple-A manager for 2023, a role he’d held prior to joining the big league club following the midseason dismissal of Charlie Montoyo.

Now, it’s a matter of fitting Mattingly into this group. That will be a long process that plays out between Mattingly, Schneider and the rest of the staff naturally, but a quick Google search covers most of it. Mattingly has been there and done that.

“Experience and credibility are words that get used a lot in professional sports, in life and in corporate worlds,” Atkins said, “but it’s hard to quantify exactly how valuable that is. I think it’s something that will create a calming impact and influence. It will help not only with performance and lack thereof, but also with accountability, which will be huge for us.”

Mattingly has already started to hear from the rest of the Blue Jays’ staff and some of the club’s players, including . The early impressions are that Mattingly’s role will be broad, but intentionally so. This wealth of experience can’t be pigeonholed away with a small task, so he’ll be available to players on a variety of fronts.

That’s something Mattingly has needed to develop himself as a manager over 12 seasons. With nicknames like "Donnie Baseball" and "The Hit Man," Mattingly brings a track record of success at the big league level that few can hold a candle to. What he remembers, though, is being a 19th-round pick in the 1979 MLB Draft who “couldn’t throw, couldn’t run and didn’t have power.” His rise from that moment of his career to where he ended up is what he hopes to bring to the Blue Jays players.

“They have to trust that you’re there to help them,” Mattingly said. “I’ve always come from that teaching point -- that I’m not here for me, I’m here for you. I want to help you in any way I can. If I’m suggesting something that it’s not going to work for you or it doesn’t fit, then get rid of it. It’s not going to hurt my feelings.”

As Atkins listed Mattingly’s potential fits, he also noted that the Blue Jays did not previously have anyone on staff who played first base during their career, which Mattingly did. Mark Budzinski typically works with the outfielders while Luis Rivera works with the infielders, but now, Mattingly will be available to work with , who just picked up his first career Gold Glove Award at 23, one year younger that Mattingly was when he won his first in 1985.

With Mattingly in place, the Blue Jays remain open to adjusting responsibilities or expanding the roles of their current group, but Atkins expects the full coaching staff from 2022 to return next season.